2012 has been a leap-year-horror. I am so pleased it has ended. I’m still trying to work out what was beneficial and what was just a complete waste of time.
In December, I was given two puppies. One was planned and the other a bit of a surprise. Xavi is a cross everything (Rottweiler, cocker, Labrador and cute) and Nita is a Jack Russell mixed with township… Xavier is still very much a 10 week old puppy, too cute for her own good, but a terror. Nita is nearly seven months old. She’s way stronger than Xavi.
One of my little joys has been watching them interact. Nita is a bully. She runs next to Xavi and as soon as the little one has speed worked up, Nita bumps her… And Xavi goes flying, usually with a yelp.
This has been my year. Just when I got speed worked up, I was knocked, not once but repeatedly, was out of my groove. I went flying. It has taken a year to get this all sorted out.
Work lost its groove quickly. The knock was significant. I did not get my groove back. It was a very deep groove that had become quiet comfortable and it needed a very big knock to get me out of that groove.
On reflection, while it would have been comfortable to slip back -bruised, battered and less trusting- into that deep groove, looking over the abyss back into the groove gave me a moment of clarity, of grace, to realize that I could no longer fit my gifts and talents into that groove.
I resigned my position as Communication Officer for the SACBC and have returned to my first love- being a parish priest. This is a significant financial blow, going from being fairly self sufficient to having to be a burden to a parish expenses once again,but I love the fact that’s am now capable once again of practicing what I love best, significantly improved by my seven years with the Conference and particularly by my experience in new media. Watch this space…
On a personal level, it’s been a huge year. I’ve learned that as a priest loneliness is part of the package and that facing that loneliness is often a priest’s greatest battle and danger. I realized this year that one cannot assume that friendship in a pastoral setting is friendship that translates well into a personal friendship. Sometimes the honesty of a personal friendship is masked by the role expectation of a priest and the personal experience that we priests have of people. I messed those boundaries up this year. I’ve emerged wiser, scarred and in some places still quite hurt.
I’ve also emerged to realize that as a priest true and deep friendships take time to build. That’s true of anyone, for anyone. I’ve also learned that the pain and trauma of 2012 have broken a barrier that I didn’t even think I had built up.
The danger of a professionalized priesthood is that I had allowed myself to become distant from the pain and trauma of others. This year was the first year that I cried at a funeral…I spoke at the funeral of a dear friend and realized just how much I needed to be me – priest always, but not distant from pain. I’ve felt that pain in the suicide of my cousin who stepped out of the closet (dramatically as he always did) into an abusive, manipulative and ultimately fatal relationship. I have felt the pain in watching family aging, in facing the delayed trauma of the murder of a dear friend and mentor.
I think I have become better for the pain. But I won’t seek more.
There have been some incredible goods that have emerged as the grace of 2012. But that is for another time.