With the number of days until postulancy down to double digits, I'm still having a hard time switching my mindset from "sales guy" to "Franciscan guy." I've managed to stay out of the bars, avoid "complex" situations with the opposite sex, maintain a daily prayer life, and I'm far more giving as a salesman.
But while the priorities in my life haven't reverted back to money and status, it's hard to act like a postulant...I'm not sure how I'm supposed to act now.
As I sit in front of my notebook, furiously itching the numerous mosquito bites that riddle my body (long story), I realize that even though my goals throughout the day are different, my life will have much the same schedule.
This is my average day now:
6:30-7:00 Get up and take my morning walk.
8:00 Shower after my walk, or if I decided to sleep in, wake up and stumble into the shower.
9:00 Start work at the dealership. Look up emails from autotrader.com, return phone messages, prepare for any closings for that day.
10:00-4:00 Lots of busy work. The occasional customer comes in to buy a car, but much of this time is filled answering phone calls, updating the website, booking cars, paperwork, and dealing with previous customers. While this is considered dull to most people, it's an important part of maintaining a dealership.
5:00-6:30 Rush hour. The lot gets packed with "up's" driving through after work to look at cars. Appointments are often scheduled for this time, and many times I stay after we close at 6 PM.
7:00-9:00 Recreation time. Sometimes this means a few hours at the driving range, fishing with the guys at the river, or playing a game of FIFA 08 on the computer when I get home. This is where I wind down from the day in a constructive manner.
10:00-Midnight Housekeeping. I take the time to straighten up my room, play a little guitar, update my blog, chat with other Catholics, and all the other things I don't do during the day. I attempt to read 3 different books (one about St. Francis, one about spirituality, one about playing poker) and eventually I fall asleep.
As a postulant, here's how I project that my life will be:
6:00 Wake up. Get my blood moving then hop in the shower.
7:00-8:00 Meditation starts at ten after. We gather in silence to be in the presence of the Lord. At 7:15 is morning prayer in accordance with the Daily Roman Missal. At 7:30 is mass. Afterwards we gather for a quick breakfast before we start our day.
9:00-4:00 Depending on the day, this time is spent in class or out in Chicago at a specific ministry. Previous postulants have worked at places such as elderly homes for the poor, schools for inner city kids, hospitals for the mentally challenged, and even prison ministry. I will have the opportunity to chose which ministry to work in during the first month in Chicago. Most of the time is spent doing things most people wouldn't want to do, but this is an important part of the formation process.
5:00 Community time. No, we don't get in a big circle and share our feelings while singing happy songs (although there's no rule that says we CAN'T do that). Brothers return for the day, and time is spent in the common room discussing the day, current events, who's the greatest Halo 3 player, et cetera.
6:00 Evening prayer. We gather again to give thanks for the day, in accordance with the Daily Roman Missal. One or two brothers my be absent from evening prayer as they are preparing the evening meal.
7:00-9:00 Dinnertime. While some eat then return to their rooms, most spend the time to continue talking, joking, etc. A few brothers are scheduled to clean up the table (remember there's 15+ brothers) while the rest either continue talking in the common room or head to their rooms for various activities (watch a movie, play guitar, write their blog, personal prayer.)
10:00-Midnight The day ends, and people wind down in their own ways. I still try to read 3 different books at the same time, and fall asleep to prepare for another day.
Perhaps the change isn't in the activities or even the times, but in the realization that instead of waking up to make money, I will be waking up to make a difference. There is no monthly goal to meet, no cars that need to be pushed, customers to call and verify, prices to negotiate, or gross profit to calculate. And while I can't wait to experience the live that lies ahead, I know I am scared to leave the "successful" way of life behind.
For a deeper understanding of what it's like to live as a postulant, I encourage you to read David's daily blog, found in my list of other blogs.