I was accepted at one of the best small liberal-arts college in America and dropped out after three semesters.
I was offered a chance to work with arguably the best stage director in the English-speaking theatre of the 20th century and declined.
I was accepted to arguably the best MBA program in the world and didn’t go.*
All that happened by the time I turned twenty-five. As I look back over the timeline of my life, it is easy to see a pattern of failure. No wonder my recurringest dream is of being a freshman at that college again, on the first day of classes.
I’ve always wanted a chance to start over. Now I finally have it. Simple reason:
I am a Catholic studying for my final degree. I suspect there will be no more colleges, theaters, or graduate schools in my life as it moves on toward evening. But I am at peace at last. I am a Catholic, and every day is the first day back at school—notebooks new and unmarked, pencils sharpened, lunch in my bag.
To be Catholic is to be embarked on a lifelong learning program. The degree offered is final, and unfinished.
So far (for me) the syllabus has included:
- Countless books of fiction and non.
- Learning about the charism of Communion and Liberation, than which there isn’t a smarter, more studious bunch in all Christendom.
- Walking the Camino de Santiago with my adult daughter and in company with millions of Christian pilgrims over 1,200 years.
- Making a Cursillo.
- Being offered (and accepting this time) the opportunity to work with a (spiritual) director.
- Undertaking the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises under the direction of the Boston Cursillo team of Fr. John Sassani and Mary Ann McLaughlin.
What's next? Who knows? Doesn't matter. Being a Catholic is like being a kid again—back in school, wondering what sort of sandwich Mom made for me today.
*NOTE: All three anecdotes figure prominently in the memoir I am writing. The college, director, and MBA program were Amherst, Peter Brook, and Harvard, respectively.