For my first two years here in SSJE, I was the only new man, the sole postulant and then novice with professed brothers. Those were very good and relatively easy first years for me. I enjoyed using my gifts and learning our ways. After two years, our prayers for new men were answered as Jim and John arrived and several more since.
I had not wanted to be the only new man. There was a clear call to come when I did. Before Jim and John arrived, I was fairly comfortable with my experience and perspective of SSJE. New men challenged that. I felt confused, lost—yet with time, more alive—as their presence and relationship further revealed my limitations. Their perspectives broadened my understanding of the community and more importantly challenged me to see and honestly share more of myself.
Over the centuries, the people of God have come to an awareness of something out there ahead of us, way out ahead of us. We have a sense of some destination, or destiny. Although we don’t know exactly where it is or how it will be, this destination often goes by the code name of the Kingdom of God. Isaiah’s prophetic visions of God’s future have given us some clues about the destination, that is, when we will know we’ve arrived in the fullness of the Kingdom of God. Listen to his poetry again: “The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them…” [Isaiah 11:6]