Sunday, August 9, 2009

Reflecting on Spokane

Greetings from the Oregon Coast! I am currently on vacation, having spent my last week in Seattle. Currently, I will spend some time at Nestucca before heading to Portland for First Vows.

I thought I would write a short post, processing my time that I spent in Spokane.

People have asked me quite frequently lately how it was working in the infirmary and at Bea House. Typically, I have told them: " wasn't the most exciting and glamorous work that I have experienced in my life, but I am glad that I did it." I feel that I was certainly blessed to be able to spend my summer with the older men in our province. For us younger guys in formation, we have pretty little contact with the men there. Yet, there is a lifetime of experience and wisdom that these men have had in their Jesuit life, and we can learn quite a bit by being in their presence.

I very much enjoyed the walks that I was able to have with one particular Jesuit. Whenever I would make a comment about nature around us, he would often exclaim: "Wow, it's so beautiful!" or "Isn't that marvelous?" or "How magnificent!" He saw great beauty in the world around him, and he wasn't afraid to exclaim his amazement. He is someone I very much admired, and I hope I can see the world like him as I grow older.

I very much enjoyed taking a number of Jesuits on their appointments. Car rides and time in the waiting room were often fertile ground for good discussion, from recent movies we have watched to living life as a Jesuit. Of course, they had many stories to share, and I very much loved to hear about their life. They have lived full lives as Jesuits and experienced all the bumps and bruises involved with that journey. Yet, I believe that they all experienced God's love and grace throughout that time, so I was grateful to learn through the example of their lives.

I also enjoyed witnessing the way that these Jesuits interact with one another as well. Some of them have known each other from 50+ years. Like any family, being around your brothers for a length of time can be quite grating. Yet, I had a deep sense that they cared for one another deep down. As men, sometimes they are not the most open about their feelings. But, I could sense the affection they have for each other. It is their faith that brings all of them together.

Our lay companions who help to take care of our brethren are wonderful people who truly and deeply care about our men. They are probably not the most paid health-care staff, and they could probably find better income somewhere else. But, they really do love our men, and I think we are extremely fortunate to have a health staff who greatly improves the quality of life for them. I think they do acknowledge the unique opportunity to take care of these Jesuits, for it is quite a rare experience to be able to serve them--it is quite unlike anywhere else. They were also extremely warm to me, and I appreciated their welcome.

And, I feel like this experience put my own vocation into perspective. I will not stay young forever, but that does not mean that I have to grow old quickly either. My life is a gift, and I am called to cherish the moments I have as they come, for they will not always be around. I am given so much, and I am impelled to live a life of gratitude, for what we take for granted may some day be taken away from us. Live in the present moment, for in the present is God most present to us.

Although my time in Spokane was not initially what I had planned for my summer, I am most grateful that I had the opportunity. I give thanks for my brothers and lay companions in Spokane and offer them a warm prayer for all they have given me.