After eleven years as a college English professor, I’ve been called to life as a brother in the Society of St. Francis. I’m now a novice and will move from San Damiano, our house in San Francisco, to Little Portion Friary in Long Island in August 2007. As part of my day-to-day life, I help coordinate a street ministry program that passes out socks, soap, dental hygiene stuff, etc., to the poor and homeless in the Tenderloin district, and I work at Church of the Advent of Christ the King’s Tuesday lunch program. During July, I’ll intern as a spiritual director at the Mercy Center in Burlingame, CA.
Life as a Franciscan has been a joy and a struggle. I moved to SF last August after packing up a career and a three-story house. I now have a bedroom and share my life with nine other men, working and worshipping together in close proximity — quite a change for someone who’s lived most of his adult life happily single and with plenty of personal space. The compromises this life requires take time to learn, and I’ve had to work to subdue my own ego, but I feel a real affection for most of my brothers in religion , and I hope to open myself to God’s joy and peace as I mature in the religious life.
I’m a novice in my first year with SSF and have been living in the house in San Francisco. In June I, with two other novices, will be moving to Long Island. It’s been a year of growth in living in community, deepening in my understanding of vocation and one of ongoing opening into relationship with God.
I think when I first came to the order, I was curious if it would be a good match, if I would fit into an established community life. As the year has progressed, these particular brothers have become my community and I have begun to feel established here only to see that changing. I had always associated the idea of impermanence as central to Buddhism and as I grow in my understanding of my first vow, of obedience, that it is central to the Christian faith as well. Only God is unchanging. My hope, my faith, says that through all changes, I too can connect to Christ always.
St. Francis was my doorway into a deeper understanding of God’s love. As I study the implications of Francis’ life and of the theology that developed in the years following his death, I change. My sense of who I am related to changes, my limited sense of God expands into something more generous and more compassionate. Franciscan spirituality is the where God’s light shines most clearly for me.