It slid by in the wake of post mortem blues, the onrush of art and theological ruminations not attended to and general exhaustion following the death of my mother. Yesterday was my 44th anniversary as a priest. Kind of a trivial thing weighted against the major shifts in life.
Trivial, by the way, is not necessarily bad. It's just, well, an introductory sort of thing...from the trivium, the introductory courses in a medieval university.
The Rt. Rev. Francisco Reus-Froylan ordained me as a priest in a service that was all in Spanish, save the questions and prayers of ordination itself, the bishop wanting to be sure I got the full weight of what was being asked and prayed. I got it, although I sometimes wonder if I have ever gotten beyond the Trivium stage. There is such a distance between becoming just being a priest and becoming a wise priest (sigh.) Just about the time I feel I'm catching on to the whole thing I get another wake-up call.
Just this last Saturday I presided at the burial office for my mother, Anne. The whole family was there and we remembered Anne, her husband Ed, our father, and all the years of creative and full life she had. The prayers were hallowed by years of use, and in Anne's case by her life long search for a fullness of meaning in prayer and the celebration of little things. There was noting trivial in Anne's world, everything was rich with meaning and possibility.
The wake-up call for me was a renewed sense of what the priesthood of all believers is about. Anne was a priest of God, more blessed in that priesthood because not ordained and set apart by the church. Her priesthood was to make sacrament at all times and in all places, the outward and visible sign of such sacramental action was her art. The inward and spiritual grace was her courage.
That wake-up call was accompanied by another: I have presided at many funerals, including my father's. But professional and personal memory fades and I forgot just how much the grieving hurts. I feel deeply grateful to have been able to preside at this service, but I am washed out by the experience. Anne's was a good death, a long life brought to a simple and good ending, with out much baggage left over. Still, I feel, well, lost.
So I am still in the trivium...still just underway, learning beginning mind. It takes a long time to get there, and forty-four years is not too long for the wind up for the pitch.