Wednesday, May 2, 2012

An End Is Near

St. Michael Friary is my home for seven more days. The postulants' moving out day is next Wednesday, but signs of this endtime are appearing. The packing supplies have come out.

I've been putting books in boxes; these will go into storage here in New York. Only a select few books, including my breviaries and a few Bibles, are flying off to novitiate in California. I am separating my clothing into three groups, with some apparel going directly to California; some items, like my sweaters, winter coat, and sports coats, going into storage; and most of the rest into two suitcases to follow me on the flight to Kansas. Bedsheets and blankets are going into storage.

My 21-year-old boombox, is not coming to Kansas or California. Neither are my dozens of compact discs. They are going into storage.

Personal papers are staying in New York. Devotional items will be shipped to California. All electronics are staying here except for a clock radio. Some office supplies will go west. And so it goes on.

It is a week of finals. We have concluded our classes on Francis, catechism, and the rest. We are saying goodbye to our ministries. My supervisors from Neighbors Together had dinner at our friary last night. They could not believe how much space we have here. We are saying goodbye to friars on Saturday at the Cinco de Mayo luncheon in Yonkers. As if to drive the point home that this is a season of transition, this morning in Howard Beach we attended the funeral for immediate family of one of our friars, Bro. Carmine Funaro, whose elder brother died. On Friday we will attend the funeral of a major benefactor of the Capuchins. It's being held at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan, and Cardinal Timothy Dolan is presiding. That's how significant a person the benefactor is.

In these waning days of postulancy I am trying to become more mindful of the place I am leaving. Reading Living Buddha, Living Christ by Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh, I am aiming simply to sit well during meditation, pray well at worship, eat well at our common meals, speak well in our fraternal conversation, and act well for my own good and the good of others. This is nothing more and nothing less than what I have been after all year long ... only perhaps I would add another term to Thich's title: Living Francis.

There is rising within me a great desire to be still and alone, to pay attention to being itself. In a few more days, when I go on vacation, I will have that time alone. But I can practice being still right now, in the present moment, where beginning and end are both instantiated and transcended.

There is another arising: the felt experience of shortness. Good as the postulancy year has been, it has been too short. And I feel a slight regret: having gained a vision for what kind of brother I want to be, I realize the brother I am is not he who I want to be. This is an admission of sin, yes, but it is not just an admission of sin. It is a confession of mystery. Good as I am, I am not all good, and I am not yet in my being the highest good that I can be. But I can dream of this omni-beneficence, this ultra-goodness. What other creature has the capacity to see that it is to surpass itself, who it is becoming, and how?

After roughly fifteen years on this procession toward salvation, God has indeed made me know the shortness of my years. I hope God through the Holy Spirit will grant within my living years the happiness of waking to the dream while on the journey.

I still want to be a brother, your brother. Forgive me for being less than brotherly to you; I'm still practicing how to be. This time of training is ending, but another time is already upon me because it is dawning within me.

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