99 days left of Novitiate. It seems so close, yet so far.
I should explain up fron that there's a difference between my vocation and my focus. In my prayer and my thoughts I am happy at the thought of taking first vows this summer. I enjoy Morning Prayer & Mass with the commmunity (even if I'm not a morning person), and when people ask me where I see myself in 5 or 10 years, I answer: "As a Capuchin." I have no fear of losing my calling to be a friar, priest, and whatever else God has in store for me.
But I wonder about my focus. I'm having trouble being present to the Novitiate Program lately. The chance to go home (I already talk about Chicago & Milwaukee as home) for Easter has a huge effect on me. It reminded me of the ministries and encounters that got me initially fired up about being a Capuchin. I got to see friars from my province, friars who pray for my success and perseverence. It is a warm feeling to have so many people rooting for you; it's like having your own cheering section.
The drive back from Chicago to Pittsburgh was tough. I felt like an inmate who got 4 days leave. The days were wonderful, but I had to deal with the hurt of going back to Pittsburgh and leave everyone behind. I don't know that I've mentally returned here to Novitiate. I dont know that I completely ever will.
Another big factor in my life has been reconnectiong with my daughter. There are a lot of emotions here, and despite my usually habit of "diving in," we've been taking things slow. This time around I have the support of other fathers (with their own adult daughters), spiritual advisors, and plenty of psychologists (there are plenty in the Order). I feel better equipped to talk to this 19 year old woman who still calls me Dad. By talking openly about our thoughts and establishing good boundaries, I feel I can be a positive influence in her life.
There are those who worry, and I acknowledge their concerns. Some know the story of my break-up with my ex, others experienced it. But I think there's a part of me, maybe the part that never knew my own father or had anyone willing to take up the job, that considers it a gift from God to hear: "You are and always will be my Dad." Is that me being responsible? Idealistic? Am I trying to prove that I'm better than the man that fathered me? These are the things I talk to God about.
I think these events are both positives and can help me be a better friar. I just need to get my head back in the game.