So the first 5 days of giving up the internet haven't been that bad. The first thing I noticed is all the extra time! I've taken that time to do plenty of reading, some homework, and other fun things that don't involve me being in front of the computer by myself. Quite honestly, being here in Novitiate seems like the one time in my life when it is feasible to actually give up the internet.
Although I've learned through experience that there's never a "right time" to give something up. Whether it's smoking, dieting, or any other change one is making, it's easy to rationalize why it's not "the right time" to give something up. And even here, when I think nothing could be so important that I wouldn't need the internet, it's funny how life surprises you.
Those of you who've followed my story for a long time will remember me writing about my daughter. While not of my blood, I tried as best I could to treat her as my own. It can be hard for any child to allow someone new to be a parental figure at the age of 15, but she welcomed the opportunity to call someone "Dad" and to have a father figure in her life. Looking back, I am amazed at the amount of openness and love to be as forthcoming as she was.
After the break-up with my ex, I knew I'd have to "break up" with her daughter as well. Anyone's who's been in a relationship with a parent knows that they build a relationship to their child as well. It's a heavy guilt to bear, and it took a long time for me to deal with it.
My readers will also remember that last year, I sent her an email. She was no longer a teenager, rather a woman at 18. I wanted to tell her, as an adult, how moving and wonderful it was to experience life as a father...if only for a little while. And my heart broke again from never getting a response.
So on Fat Tuesday, when I'm checking my email for the last time, I'm dumb-founded by what I see in my Inbox...the response.
It was wonderful to hear from her, and she apologized for taking so long to get back to me. Without saying too much, she wrote the words any estranged father dreams of hearing: "You are still and always will be my dad. Please email me soon. I love you, Daddy."
With this and with the emotions of everything, it was hard to think why I should stay away from the internet. Surely Jesus didn't expect his disciples to fast during a time of joy. So it has been a struggle to stick with staying away from the computer. Quite honestly, I want to check my email ever 15 minutes!
So I have to ask myself: "Is this the right time to give up the internet?" The timing appears to be horrible, but prayer and reflection is helping me find God at work in all of this. Even working with my spiritual director, perhaps there's a way to continue to be present to my fast while being present to my Capuchin charism of being loving and compassionate. Which is the greater pennance: giving up something, or opening my heart to a floodgate of emotions that scare me? Again...things I have to take to prayer.
So for now, I await her response. I won't go into the contents of what I wrote, but I told her it requires a lot of love to allow someone back into your life as easily as she has.
Until next week...