Quite simply, being in the novitiate is busy. I must admit, it is one of the few places I have been where I haven’t been bored. This week is no different. Everyday since coming back we have had a full schedule of getting the place ready for the celebrations on 8th September when the second year novices take vows.
It always seems that when we have to describe what the novitiate (or the Society of Jesus in general) is like, we usually end up saying what it isn’t. We live in community, but we’re not monks. We are contemplatives, but we don’t cut ourselves off from the world, in fact, quite the opposite.
So far, this week, we have kept the house clean, maintained the garden, gone through arrangements for the vow ceremony in September and in the middle of it all, had some quiet time to reflect on the year. The reflections on the year, have essentially had us looking back over the year, seeing how it has been and where we felt God was at work.
Also, looking back over this week, it was interesting when we were working in the garden, to make it presentable for the visitors arriving for the vows celebrations, how it became clear how important the community aspect of our life is. As there was so much to do, instead of working on parts of the garden in pairs (which we normally do), we all spread out individually. By the end of our work outside, everyone came back not as happy and motivated as normal. It was easy to see why, working with other people and getting the chance to have a chat, makes the time seemingly fly by. So, we would find it very difficult to work outside in cubicles.
Next week we’re off to Barmouth in Wales for a two weeks. It’s meant to be a change of pace from the novitiate. We’re simply going there to relax, see the area and hopefully come back refreshed for next year, which will no doubt be busy.