After consultation with my superior and with my new boss at UDM, it has been suggested that I wear clerics to work each day. By clerics I mean, of course, the universally recognized black shirt with the white tab at the throat. While pants are a matter personal discretion (what doesn't go with black??) I reckon that I'll stick to black slacks, although I will admit to owning a pair of kickin' pin-striped pants that are both comfy and stylish. While I mourn the curtailment of my clothing options, I do think it's kind of cool that I won't have to fret over "What am I going to wear?"
I'm wracking my brains in an attempt to find something funny/witty/insightful to post this evening. Sadly (and par for my course) I've not much to offer. We're getting back into the daily grind here at Loyola House so there's a regularity to the schedule and our new guys seem to be settling in very well. It's hard to believe that a whole year has transpired!
Sometimes I wonder what life would have been like if I had chosen a different path than the one on which I currently tread. I suspect that I'd have gone off to do my PhD someplace and I'd be living in a nice little loft apartment with a home theater system (tuned to FoodTV) and cable internet. There's something very neat and clean - almost idyllic - about this fantasy. What is more, I'd probably have continued to play Irish music with the reckless abandon that marked my life earlier...and so I can well imagine having a life full of a lot of "stuff" but lacking the substance that it does now.
This is not to say that I think that the lives led by others are lacking in substance! Nothing could be further from the truth. I'm envious of my friends who are married and those who have started families (Enyak!!). There's a tender part of my heart that does sometimes wonder what it would be like to be a daddy, but it'd be my luck that I'd have a kid just like me who'd be hyper-sarcastic and would make fun of me or, even worse, I'd have a kid that was the essence of goodness and kindness and I wouldn't be able to relate to him!
Seriously, though, this year has both challenged and reshaped me and my worldview. came into the Society thinking that I knew *Exactly* what I wanted to do with my life as a Jesuit. Now, I take great joy in knowing that I want to be a Jesuit and great consolation in being able to confess that I haven't any clue as to what I want to do! As my relationship to Christ grows through prayer and experience, I'm finding that the "what" question of my life is fading and the "who" is ascending in importance, such that it is often with awe that I look at myself and think, "Is it really possible that I am called to be a Jesuit?" Is it possible that I might live this life and that, in death, I might kneel for eternity along with Ignatius Loyola and Karl Rahner and Francis Xavier? What will it be like to bee able to great Rahner in the celestial court of heaven and thank him for guiding my head and heart and embrace him both as a student and as a brother?
Part of my growth this year has been an a growing awareness of a certain woundedness that is the result of a direct encounter with Christ through the Spiritual Exercises. A deep wound that resists healing, it has made me slow down in my pilgrimage and see things more clearly, to savor reality in new and different ways. It's a wound that seems to attract the dirt and grit of the day-to-day life; a wound that seeps an admixture of blood and tears as the sorrows and cares of the world are laid bare before me. But this very wound, an irruption of the battle-hardened flesh, has penetrated so deeply into my heart in such a way as to expose my humanity and it is in this - my weakness and vulnerability - that I seem to become and feel more human.
One of the exercises of the First Week of the "Spiritual Exercises" is to reflect on the sinfullness of the world. It is hard not to see how broken our world is - even a cursory glance at the nightly news indicates this. Indeed, as I write this two police cars are racing down Coolidge with their lights on. That night as I prayed over our world, I was distraught with the enormity of the problem and, as a single person, knew not how I might help mend this broken land. Heck, I could see immediately around me my own complicity in sin and its effects!
That night, I think I prayed for the first time in my life. I mean, I really prayed. My empty heart seemed to crack apart in my chest and as I stared out at the wild Atlantic Ocean I surrendered myself completely to the silence of the night and prayed. I prayed for the abused wife, the heroin addict contemplating whether to shoot up again or to find treatment, for the runaway, the homeless, the prostitutes, the AIDS victims...I prayed for all those who seemed to have been forgotten in the world, for all those who had no one to pray for them. I joined myself to them and experienced the re-creation of a new heart, a new sensibility, a new way of encountering Christ. I prayed out of an old heart and into a new one. The crushing pressure of sadness and doubt and fear and deafening silence gave way to the open expanses of a heart set free. And yet this was no gilded or flowery spiritual festival! I felt as my own the pain (of doubt, of anguish, of sadness, of isolation) felt by so many and yet I rejoiced in this pain, for I'd sooner feel pain than feel nothing at all.
This became the wound of knowledge, the wound of called discipleship. There is no astringent or analgesic for such a wound, no binding for such brokenness. There is only a limping gait of those who will walk such woundedness. Made deeper and more acute through prayer, I'm impelled out of the gate and into the world to do ministry as a Companion of Jesus - a Jesuit - and as such devote myself to the service of the Kingdom where such wounds become badges of those who are friends of and in the Lord.