I have just returned from a 3 day retreat. As a group of ordinands, we do this every year, and it is always a wonderful time.
This time, I left with a definite sense of melancholy. Had I used the time right, did I waste the experience, did I really listen to my companions, did I really listen to God?
I read Elisabeth of Schonau's First Book of Visions and Hildegard von Bingen's Scivias. Both hard work and enjoyable.
We discussed our calls to the priesthood and how we think this will look, what it means, all that sort of stuff. It was here that the melancholy kicked in. My call was instantaneous and life changing, like 180 degree turn around. It was completely impossible to ignore and difficult for everyone around me.
My call is still as strong, but what I think my ministry will be is really quite different than what I expected. I probably was in fantasy land in what I thought the job entailed, but the reality seems to be a rather harsh and unforgiving role that seems to ask for disrespect and criticism.
Whinge, whinge, whinge.
All of this would be a complete load of nonsense and absolute awfulness if it wasn't for the presence of the living Christ in each moment of my life.
If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
I don't do it on my own. Christ is with me. But by hokey sometimes it feels like a wrong turn. Sometimes I feel like a complete fraud. Other times I feel like I don't actually know anything. Of course there are other days when it is rolls along smashingly, and it is so clear as to be a blinding light, yet one that soothes the eyes.
This whole priesty thing is easily the biggest challenges I have have had. It has pushed my limits like nothing else, and has made me question my very existence and the existence of God. And it has also given me moments of gentle joy and sublime consciousness.
It is a difficult path, no question about that.