I've been thinking a lot recently about the poverty of the vows. I don't mean this to be a theological or educational post on the vows but just a reflection of my experience and spirituality through them.
There is a time when I feel the emptiness of the vows in a way that is both empty and full at the same time. There is an inherent sacrifice in saying yes to chastity, poverty, and obedience. Sometimes, usually when I pray night prayer alone in my room, I have the opportunity to feel that emptiness more than in the business of the day filled with community and ministry. I can't completely describe the feeling, but it is both a longing and the answer to a promise at the same time.
Sometimes I want to run from it because the experience makes me afraid. I have nothing to compare it to, nothing to fill the emptiness with, and nothing to take my mind away from it. Sometimes I read or clean something until I forget it. But when I stay quiet and still in it; I can give it to God. In those moments I feel more united to Jesus than at any other time. I am dependent on Him and I am trusting in what He has already done for me. It is a gift for which I can never thank Him enough.
In living the vows authentically in that poverty of heart, I feel that there is made a place for God to dwell in my heart. It is the place reserved for Him alone, and the place that our society tries so hard to fill with relationships, entertainment, work, and recreation so that we don't have to feel the longing that lets us know that there is something more. The something more is a Someone who is desperately in love with us. When we feel the place He belongs, we know Him.
"The heart of man is, so to speak, the paradise of God." -Saint Alphonsus