Part of it was reminiscent of the first week of a university semester, when all the lecturers outline the breadth of reading and number of assignments to be completed over the following few short months. And perhaps that feeling was somewhat justified as another busy year stretched ahead.

But there was more to my overwhelmed-ness than that. I suspect it is something we all feel from time to time. There are so many ideas and voices that call for our attention. We are surrounded by so many people, organisations, groups, corporations, media, causes and faiths--all with their own messages, theories, hopes, fears and products to sell or otherwise urge upon us. That so many of these varied voices are inconsistent with each other only adds to the tension.

Often this burble of voices is merely background noise to our lives. But there are times when our own circumstances, or a conjunction of various voices demanding our particular consideration, raise a cacophony that threatens to drown our hope, peace and joy. And while we continue to trudge through our days, it seems our best energies and thoughts are swallowed by this sense of overwhelmed-ness.

Perhaps such a state of mind is an occupational risk for those who work directly and regularly with so many different ideas, stories, philosophies and beliefs. In a sense, we all do--but some of us are compelled by employment or disposition to wrestle with these more than others. We are exposed to a broad cross-section of thought and have to hold inconsistent ideas in tension at the same time as reporting, reflecting and communicating something of this to a similarly broad audience.

Amid my feelings of overwhelmed-ness, I was re-reading Brennan Manning's The Ragamuffin Gospel and a question jumped out at me. "We need to ask ourselves," Manning writes, "Do I really believe the Good News of Jesus Christ? Do I hear His word spoken to my heart: `Shalom, be at peace, I understand'