Thank you very very much for the replies. I wll look into OD and also would love to see about visiting Trappists.
As for which spirituality attracts me, at this point in life I cannot even be sure to know the difference or what I would lean towards…my emotional and spiritual life has been knocked way off track. I have been struggling and slowly over the past three years many of my practices have waned. My favorite church and preaching of all time was when I lived in New Haven, with the Dominicans at St Marys. I loved that church, worked nearby and could visit often, talk with the priests, etc. I also have always loved St Francis and reading about him, and going to Franciscan parishes. Later in life I met a Jesuit when looking into grad programs, and although I remember my Dominican priests and other Catholic friends calling them “liberal”, this one priest in particular over the past 7 years gave me great guidance, spiritual direction, and really challenged my faith in a positive way. He is on his way to Rome for an assignment right now, but he really had a huge impact on me. Ive visited an OP center and do go to mass often at an OP affiliated parish, but I do not know if it was the timing of things going on in my life that meeting with a group of men at the center didnt keep me coming back, or it didnt click. I would probably lean towards it being right smack dab in the middle of surgeries, severe chronic illness, and some other personal hardships all creating the “perfect storm” in my life making me a bit dazed and confused. I went from swimming like Phelps to doggy paddling and dead man floating to survive daily as far as emotionally and spiritually, and physically was and still have some struggles (but not life threatening, just chronic minor illness and permanent health changes to adjust to now).
So it is very hard to say, and I am probably such a novice, “newbie”, or whatever you might want to term it compared to others on this forum. I grew up Catholic, it was pretty habitual when I first entered college, but through challenging times in military school, through serious football injuries, my faith sort of transformed or came alive and I got really interested in my last few years of undergrad of trying to understand the Catholic faith better. In grad school and beyond, I was very into prayer meetings, reading on spirituality and theology, going to daily mass, adoration, etc…even when I used to work patrol, Id try to stop by a church and light candles and pray at least once a shift…always went home and did the Spiritual Exercises, maybe the Magnificant, reflected alot on the things Id see and journal…on days off I coached college athletes and was involved in prayer groups with them, learned alot through meeting athletes of various denominations and differeing life experience…and probably at least once a week between the two jobs, I made a point to do a day at a favorite church, Cathedral, or to go for a drive and visit somewhere new to spend time with God. I was not perfect by any stretch ha, but was thirsty and hungry to seek God’s will in my life, to help others with my gifts, and just really was firing on all cylinders. After I had a really botched surgery, then family issue, then severe illness from infections, then more surgeries, etc etc, thigns just snowballed and Ive struggled with depression and such. And although I trust and am getting more excited about what God might have in store for me next, going from a really healthy jock type SWAT officer, coaching and competiting with college athletes, and really loving both my jobs, to being in doctors offices every day, and eventually finding out my life as a cop was over, its been a very difficult acceptance and transition…thus, as long as I get my unused vacation pay I think is coming, and planning on using the money from selling all of my furniture and belongings other than books, clothes, and personal items, I want to do this cross country trip to try to get back on track with my spiritual life.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and for any of your input. It is greatly appreciated.