I haven't written in a while, and that is good news. When I don't write, it means that I am happy and occupied. When I write excessively, it means that I am anxious and probably procrastinating something important. I'm 32 now, soon to be a father, with a marriage and a teaching career still in their infancy. I feel as though I live a life of perpetually just getting started. When I remind myself that I am 32, I get a little chill, like all of my accomplishments lose credit for being so far past deadline.
That's silly, of course. No one on earth is grading me, and the only One who is doing so isn't using that rubric. The one thing that matters is whether I loved and did so without counting costs.
I never thought I would be a family man. At late as 2009 I was still strongly considering celibate life, and I was surprised to discover how well domesticity agreed with me. I love my sweet Laura, and I love this life--it is the small, manageable arena where we can practice love and remove distractions. It is focused, distilled, simple and comforting. To a large extent it's everything I hoped the monastery would be, and in hindsight, far better for me. One of my worst aches through seminary was to be known, understood, and loved without having to hide flaws. I longed for the euphoria that came after a few nights of retreat, where talented guides lead you into that teary feeling of welcome, acceptance, forgiveness, brotherhood, and hope. I wonder if my friend Fr. Thomas feels the same satisfaction at St. Meinrad as I do married in Illinois.
Of course, vocation isn't exclusively about satisfying deep emotional needs (or even primarily that). But it does not need to be less than that, either. Hard lesson I learned.
Looking at my new life, with Laura my love, and home, baby, and career, it's tempting for me to ask questions like "What direction am I going?" or "What will be my legacy?" But I'm not sure that's right. It's not appreciative enough of the now. And, now, there are people to love, there is a family to serve, and a home to build.