So Much Has Been Learned, So Much To Be Learned

David Oatney Blog: Life at 25

deacon_starterSome of my confreres in diaconate formation have gotten on me about the lack of entries here at Life At 25, even though I have had good reason. That reason is that I am the primary daytime caregiver for our nine month-old daughter Riley, and I find that I have lots of ideas for writing, but little time in the midst of the day to write them. Nonetheless, it has been my goal for quite some time to write more for Life at 25. I find that it may be especially important to do so as we approach ordination, which God willing, is now about five and a half months away.

In many ways,  it is difficult for me to believe the ordination is nearly here, as my classmate Scott Maentz has pointed out. In my mind, I know that the time has come, but it literally does seem just like yesterday when we all began the formation process. I have come to see that so much has changed in the last five years, much about me has changed, and certainly much about my life has changed, and changed forever. I came to understand after some period of time in formation that even if I were not ordained, my life would never be the same again. I have made many mistakes and would go so far as to say that I have made errors of judgement over the last five years, regarding my formation, how I approach it with others less familiar with the process, and even what I posted on this weblog. I always knew that I was imperfect, and that I probably needed a triple dose of the gift of humility. There have been times in the course of this process that the Holy Spirit has given that to me in spades, and he continues to teach me lessons every day.

Riley in front of the Christmas tree playing, ready for Mass on Christmas Eve.

Riley in front of the Christmas tree playing, ready for Mass on Christmas Eve.

I find that Riley teaches me a good many of them. Before Riley was born, I used to be able to sympathiize with families and children, especially those with very young children. It is one thing to have situational empathy… It is quite another, however, to know what someone is going through from experience. I remember that I used to gripe about people being late for Mass all the time, and Nicole would really hear it from me if we were running late to Mass. I still detest being late for Mass, but I’m a lot more empathetic about it and understanding than I used to be, because I can no longer count the number of times that I’ve been late to Mass since Riley was born because of nothing we could control.

I still find that I need to watch my words from time to time, not because I say anything bad, but because those of you who know me know that I say what I think. I try to state things as I see them because I’ve always thought it to be unfair and dishonest to do otherwise. Sometimes, however, I have come across as less than charitable when doing this, so over time I have learned better when to speak and when not to, or as the scripture says “ there is a time to speak and a time to keep silent.” (cf. Ecc. 3:7) I continue to grow and learn in the ways of silence. It’s a virtue I need to grow not only for the benefit of my own ministry, but also for the sake of the Benedictine spirituality has played such a strong role in grounding me over the years.

It is going to be my goal to attempt to post again to Life At 25 at least once a week. I might not always get there, there is a lot in my heart and a lot on my mind, and time is increasingly at a premium. There are actually things I would love to write in this post, but if I did it would begin to move the topic into another direction that is really worthy of another post. At the risk of that post not being timely, I hope you will forgive me if some of the matters I wish to discuss in the next post wait until then. Until next time, thanks for taking the time to read this time… And in Jesus and Mary may you be blessed.