It will be ten years this summer that I set out on the journey of becoming a “priest of the law” — taking the first steps toward my degree, and my career, as a canonist.
It is with considerable ambivalence that I reflect on that decision, and all that followed. My life, and the life of my entire family, has been forever changed by the disruption, the adventures, the travails and the new experiences which crowded upon us, individually and collectively, from the moment we left behind all we knew in search of all I thought we wanted.
Everything has changed in these ten years. I have climbed to some marvelous vistas, to be sure, but far more time has been spent wandering in the valley of the shadow of death. I cannot change anything that has transpired. Maybe I can learn from it: that seems a bit too cute for my taste, though. Principally, I am grateful to have survived it all, amazed to be still standing, still breathing: that I still have a chance to try again.
When I first set out to study canon law, I wrapped myself in pride and ambition: I wanted to make a name for myself in this new discipline, this new calling, which I was prepared to throw myself headlong into. I thought I had finally found a sphere in which I was really going to be a somebody. But I lacked the fortitude to actually do the work that this would entail: I settled for coasting through as I had done my entire adult life, added idle self-indulgence and nearly constant inebriation, and the fact that all of us have survived the existential trainwreck that ensued is a daily cause for wonderment.
But surviving is just what we are doing. I am learning — for what seems like the first time — to push myself, to follow through on my commitments, to be the person that seemingly everyone except me has always believed I could be. That’s hard work. But I tell myself every morning that it is hard work worth doing, and that I am going to do it.