Today is also the Catherine of Siena Institute's 14th birthday. This is a snippet of a post I wrote four years ago for our 10th birthday: The Existential Cost of Love.
"Perhaps it is because the Institute just celebrated her 10th anniversary but I've been meditating upon the experience of the past 17 years since I received my call. My conclusion would have to be Dickensian: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
I can hardly put into words how astonishing, fulfilling, fruitful, and graced a journey it has been overall or how demanding, relentless, exhausting, and heart-breaking large parts of it have been. People are sometimes surprised that I don't answer with simple monosyllabic enthusiasm when asked how I'm doing. That's because "good" or "great!" doesn't begin to cover the waterfront.
In this, I don't imagine that I am different from most intentional disciples (and/or parents!) in mid-life, maxed out and overwhelmed by our commitments and vocation(s) (although I am feeling unusually relaxed because I've just finished a once in a lifetime 6 week sabbatical).
It is always infinitely more complicated and cross-grained to actually live a vocation than to dream about it or even say "yes" to it at the beginning. And how many of us begin to withdraw our "yes" in small or large ways when the inevitable, chronic struggles and pain associated with any significant work of love begins to rear its ugly head. How many of us feel that there is something wrong with us, with our discernment, with our situation, with our faith, when the price of love in a fallen world comes due? (Here I am not speaking of the sort of suffering which is not an intrinsic part of our vocation(s) and should move us to appropriate change.)"
What is your experience? Where have you or are you living the exhilirating, hair-raising cost of long commitment love? What has made it possible for you to keep on keeping-on? Are there specific blessings and rewards that those who are faithful to a long obedience receive that have surprised you?
This is a good conversation for the Feast of the Sacred Heart.