25 July 2010

Who is he?

This morning I slept past 7:50 am for the first time in fourteen months.  I woke up at 6:15 am slightly confused: an unfamiliar bed, an unfamiliar room and slightly more ambient noise coming from my window in Allison Park, yet decidedly less than that to which I've become familiar in Boston.  And I rolled over, drifting back to sleep for another couple of hours.  Living high on the hog am I.

I  just drifted downstairs to the retired friars' dining room to slurp a cup of coffee and munch a bowl of honey nut cheerios.  Of course, I hadn't the foggiest idea where exactly to find bowls -- and if I found them: excuse me, but are these the correct bowls for cereal? -- and spoons and cups and milk.  Thankfully, some of incredibly compassionate men and women who work in the kitchen and with the friars here directed me to the appropriate drawer.

After I finished the cereal and refilled my cup of coffee, I saw one our retired friars in the living room with an aide next to him.  We talked for a bit -- I knew his name and I knew he was a former novice master.  We talked about his time in the novitiate for a bit; moved onto the weather and then briefly to me.  I explained what was I doing here (staying in Yonkers for the week until I make vows in the Church connected to the friary next Saturday) and then excusing myself, began the trek to my room on the second floor.

I felt pretty good about myself -- felt as if I had made a connection.  And then I heard the old friar remark to his aid: "I don't even know who that was."

As I sit here replaying the scene in my head, I think I've found a metaphor for religious life in the very exchange.  Perhaps a Capuchin -- any religious in fact -- is called upon to throw himself or herself into a situation completely and then move on to the next interaction, relying more on providence and the effort than any result.  Such a sentiment doesn't mean that what we do doesn't matter; rather it means that what we do matters incredibly.  In fact, such a reality suggests that we're not judged by the standards of the world but by the paradoxically extraordinarily unreachable, yet easily seen expectations of our God.

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