I arrived here on Tuesday 11 January after what can only be described as a wretched 9-hour overnight flight. Until today I felt worse than I did after the 20-hour overnight flight from D.C. to Taipei. Go figure.
Initial impressions are very positive. The house is large and rambling (also a little confusing for a man with no sense of direction). It contains three distinct communities. There had been four but the novitiate community moved to Melbourne, where the tertian community will move after this year. Part of the reason for the move is that Pymble is a very posh suburb. Something like the Australian equivalent of Bryn Mawr. The house will be put to very good use as a retreat and conference center as well as continuing to be used for the retired men.
The community is welcoming. Indeed, it seems as if most of the Australians I’ve met (which has not been a lot yet) are welcoming. Food in the house is good and well balanced. Lots of fresh fruit (it is summer here) makes me very happy. A fresh mango for desert beats ice-cream any day.
Earlier this evening before Mass I found myself meditating on the words ‘in the fullness of’ time.’ I am the oldest man in the group by 6 years. However, I am the second youngest Jesuit by a few weeks and the second most recently ordained priest by two months or so.
During novitiate I recall running in frigid temperatures one morning during the long retreat perplexed as to what brought a then 48 year-old man, successful physician and teacher, into a group where there was no guarantee, at the time, that I would ever practice medicine or psychiatry again. It was a rough stretch of the retreat as this thought had been haunting me for a day or two. And then i heard the words, ‘in the fullness of time’. The perplexity lifted and has never returned. I was where I belonged, in the province to which I was called, with the novice master I needed. End of argument. The fullness of time had come. For that reason I don’t particularly care to be referred to as a “late vocation.” There was nothing late about it. It was precisely on time.
That is how things feel now. This is the right time to break from everything I’ve been doing as Jesuit for the past 13 plus years for this graced time of tertianship. The question of what I will do after finishing tertianship is an open one. It will remain open for as long as possible.
Five of the 12 are in the house and the rest will be arriving in the next few days. The tertianship begins on Thursday 20 January at dinner.
Spent this afternoon taking photos around the house and grounds. Will download them to the computer later and post them tomorrow.
+Fr. Jack, SJ