I’ve often thought it would be great to be a priest. What a wonderful existence, to be present at all of life’s greatest moments, to speak words of meaning to gatherings of people united for a common purpose. Some priests are lucky enough to run a school, and, if goodness is what is behind it, to experience the growth and learning of children and be there as they enter the world.
We seem to only remember priests at those important rites of passage: births, deaths, marriage, coming of age, and our unburdening of a sin that we are unable to forget. They are always there to observe us and help us through time’s transcendence, whenever we wish to reach for their help and guidance. They are at once passive, yet incredibly active in their passivity.
I find the lives of priests and writers to be very similar. We are both present at life’s greatest transcending moments. We don’t live conventional lives caught within the daily grind. We are somehow isolated and exempt from conventional existence. We are allowed to be unique and different. We live a monastic sort of existence. We observe people for who they are inside--our essence, our human foibles, sufferings, our love, our struggle to come to terms with the life we have been given. We are both searching for that ultimate spiritual experience, that moment of perfect transcendence.
I don’t dream of being a priest anymore. I don’t have to. After all, I couldn’t be one anyway. And being a nun is a whole different ballgame.