At 6:30 tomorrow morning we'll be leaving for Cincinnati for the joint Detroit/Chicago Province Days. This year's gathering will be held at Xavier University and, if our time together this year is as much fun as the gathering we had last year, we're in for a really good time. It's especially nice to gather together with other Jesuits and have the time to catch-up with one another. In no small measure do I delight in knowing that I'll see several of the men I lived with in Chicago so it'll be nice to have a bit of a reunion.
On Monday morning I'll head to LA for the national conference of Jesuits in formation. This will be several days of meeting and coming to know the "younger face" of the Society. From Monday evening through Friday morning we will pray together, celebrate Eucharist together, and begin to look together at the future of our mission and ministry in the United States.
On June 19th, we set off for Peru. This will begin basically five weeks of cultural immersion where we will study Spanish and live with and work alongside Peruvian Jesuits. I'm hoping to have computer access during my time there, so with luck I'll be able to update my blog.
Speaking of: I know I've been posting at a diminished rate and depth of late. As I've probably said before, being back at the novitiate is like treading water - not a whole lot of movement here! I'm hoping I have the time and opportunity to share my experiences in Peru, but please do not be dismayed if I seldom post -- Lord knows what chances I'll have down yonder!
Finally, I'd like to say something of vows. As many of you know, Vows this year will be celebrated on August 13th at Gesu Church in Detroit. Eric Sundrup, SJ, was kind enough to put up a website for our vows: sundrup.org/vows. I finished stuffing envelopes today and I realize that I've probably neglected to invite people who want to come. So I throw this out: if you want to come, you are invited. Furthermore, if you are invited and are unable to come, please don't feel bad - I know that people are busy. Especially for the Irish dancing teachers/adjudicators, I don't want them to feel pressured into coming...my invitations are an expression of the importance people have in my life.
There's a lot I want to write tonight, but I'm not quite in the mood. I've been so busy packing and trying to figure out what to take/what not to take that I'm more frazzled than usual. As things settle down (in Peru?!?!?!) I'm going to try to write something more meaningful.
I will share this, though. I've lately been thinking a lot about my childhood fascination with Star Wars. Attracted to wisdom figures (Howard Gray, SJ = Yoda) I muse on Yoda's comments:
Concentrate. Feel the Force flow. Not outside or inside, but part of all it is. Through the Force, things you will see. Reaches across time and space it does. Other places. The future... the past. Old friends long gone.
Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.
I can't help but feel that these two "bookends" speak much to my spirit. On the one hand, when I am prayerful and attentive to my prayer life I find myself centered. I feel the presence of God and those who I love...even when we are separated by great distances. Family members long deceased are present and alive. In prayer I can unite myself to the suffering and joy of the world - the suffering of those silent margins forgotten by so many; the joys of those nearest to my heart.
And yet when I do not pray, when I neglect the interior work that I feel called to do, I find myself skittish and fearful. I find myself growing angry and impatient and even afraid. Out of fear - fear of the unkown, of uncertainty, fear of my own limitedness, even - I assume a stance of hostility to others. I become quick to judge, sarcastic, angry. Anger leads to objectification, a stripping of the "I" of another and replacing humanity with objectivity, turning the other person into an "it". Here is the dark side: I dwell in a space that disregards the humanity and createdness of another person; I assume the position of a judgmental and petulant god who is very much unlike the God I know in prayer; I become the center of the universe...which is, I suspect, heaven for me and hell for everyone else!
Star Wars is probably not the most profound of materials to use for prayer, but it works for me. In some respects, I prefer the quotidian or day-to-day images because I'm comfortable and familiar with them. Drawing on these important images of my childhood, I realize that right now, at this very moment, I feel the profound need to stop typing and to put some "face time" in with God -- meaning, of course, that I need to go and pray!
Enough rambling for tonight! I'm off early tomorrow morning at 6:30. Please pray for me and the other novices as we begin the summer of travel. Thank God for frequent flier miles on Continental!