Observance

I was having a conversation with one of our brothers about the peculiarities of our Dominican life. He lives in an adjacent cell. As a result, through the wall, he got to hear the numerous joy filled phone calls I made to close friends and family after I received word that I had been approved for Solemn Vows. He thought it was really cool to hear the repeated excitement expressed in each new call. He told me that since he entered the Order he had missed hearing those kind of emotional outbursts — the delight in life. He shared that he was slightly disturbed by the emotionally subdued texture of our day to day life. It was a great conversation. It prompted me to reflect on the various reasons for the powerful eruptions of my emotional states. For me, this is a new thing. It has only fully taken hold since I entered Religious Life.

We deliberately apply the word 'regular' to our life. This is because from the moment we wake to the time we go to bed our life is regulated. It is ordered. I felt this most strongly in the Novitiate. It was almost as if, between the hours of sleep, we moved from prayer to food to study without any variation. It was a difficult process at first. It was disturbing. Getting into a regulated habitual way of living can be difficult, to say the least. This is especially true if you have been accustomed to making your own schedule as I had become. But, over the years it has become quite normal — profoundly regular.

Over the near six years of my religious life this regularity has taken its toll. I do nearly everything in a stable routine. And sure enough, with such regularity comes what could be characterized as a dull, muted life, lacking in spontaneity. But it isn't. The surprise is that this regularity makes the affective aspects of life so much more spectacular. The austerity of our chapel has taught me to marvel at the beauty of color and natural forms. The silence we observe has taught me to cherish every sound, especially the sound of the human voice. The ordered schedule makes the days of celebration all the more joyful and the days of sorrow all the more dark. Our regularity makes life more spectacular just as fasting makes food more delightful.

Six years of this way of life has had an amazing effect on me. What will fifty years bring?