Saturday, April 30, 2016

What Has Formed Me? Part One

I have been reading a book about retirement called "How To Retire Happy, Wild, and Free" by Ernie J. Zelinski.  The author speaks of retirement as a time to be who you really are.  I found myself thinking about who I really am as well as who and what has shaped me into the person I am.  Most of my influences have been spiritual.  My childhood was spend in a very Catholic environment.  Many priests and religious sisters influenced me in very positive ways.  I have no horror stories of being abused by priests or smacked with rulers by mean nuns.  It was quite the opposite.  I wanted to be like them.  They were heroes to me.  I went off to the seminary at the tender young age of 14 to be a Franciscan priest.  Two of my earliest influences were Jesus and Francis of Assisi. The minor seminary did not work out for me and I returned to my home town.  The next major influence on me was the whole counter-cultural movement of the late 1960's.  I became a hippie and today at the tender age of 65, I remain something of a flower child.  As the sixties were winding down I began to have a new spiritual awakening.  I found myself thinking of my Franciscan past and soon enough I joined them for the second time.  It was during this time that I was introduced to two more major influences in my life.  One of the friars introduced me to the writings of Thomas Merton.  I quickly fell in love with the monastic and contemplative life.  Before I left the Franciscans for the second time, I had the great fortune to live with a newly ordained priest named Richard Rohr.  He was impressive even then and he remains a friend and teacher.  Today he is highly regarded all over the world as a speaker and spiritual master.  One of the great things I have learned from Richard is the Enneagram.  The Enneagram taught me who I really am.  When I realized I was a Type Nine on the Enneagram, it was a real moment of spiritual awakening for me.  It was also during this time that I began having serious thoughts of becoming a Trappist monk in the same monastery where Thomas Merton had followed his call.  I made it into the monastery and my time there proved to be a major influence on the kind of person I am today.  It was during the time I lived in the monastery that I learned the meaning of contemplation and I began living with a sense of wonder.

To be continued.....       

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