Today is my seventeenth birthday. The fact that my birthday falls on the day after Ash Wednesday is strangely significant... and it gives me a chance to meditate even more on my new beginning than I already do during this season of Lent.
This morning, as I knelt praying before Mass, I was watching the lector on the alter preparing to announce the start of Mass. Suddenly, I thought to myself that I'd very much like to be a nun... as if the idea had never crossed my mind before. Because of the nature of this day, and its meaning for me, this realization about my vocation... which appeared as clearly as it did when I was a small child reading my saint books... has a very powerful meaning for me. It means that I am still a child, still seeking, still growing more and more... and that I know nothing, and can learn everything. All that I have learned over the years about saints and Catholicism and Jesus cannot deter me from learning it all again afresh. All that I have felt, enjoyed, and wondered is still available to me in my future.
When one first begins to seek a vocation, he receives many gifts. He is mystified at the immensity of God's gifts and filled with zeal, gratitude, and the rapid fire of growth and love. In time, however, he begins to forget... to move on to what he considers to be higher understandings, higher callings of prayer and knowledge, and loses the simplicity of the childhood of his conversion. But we must remember that this "beginning" can be made at any time of any day, and the freshness of new life can be felt again, by simply remembering those first precious fruits of God's grace that we received and pursuing them.
This thought, "I'd like to be a nun," brings back in remembrance and in reality the beauty of the saints, my dreams of the religious life and union with Christ, and the power of Christ's virtue. The very freshness and genuineness of this thought brings my memories to life and causes the heavenly reality of life to fill whatever small dark depressions time had eaten into my soul. Nothing that is of heaven need ever pass away.. and the good we experience in our search for our vocations is meant to last forever.
I thank God that I have been given life, a life with which I can serve Him and suffer for Him and love Him at every moment of every day for as long as life exists. I thank God for my mother and father who have so patiently raised me, and for my brothers and sisters who I love very much. I thank Him for all the people I have met, and for all those who I have not met who my prayers and love reach to even now, and most especially for my friends who have been so loving and kind, and who have given me far more by their friendship than I could ever repay. If I have received such happiness by my seventeenth birthday, what awaits me in eternity? I thank God for accepting me as His child, and keeping a place for me in heaven.