When I was ordained a priest twenty two years ago I felt I had had a clear vision of what life and ministry would be like for many years to come. Then I was young, idealistic, and confident that I knew the answers to absolutely everything. Which, of course, I did not, but no one could have told me that at the time! Everything, what I would say and what I would do, was perfectly laid out in front of me. All I had to do was follow the right path and all would be well. All manner of things would be well. (Sorry, Mother Juliana!) It was to be all spiritual and enlightening study, pastoral care and walking with people along the paths of life.
So far today I have spent nearly two hours in email and phone conversations with parishes all over Suffolk county regarding an organ maintenance survey which I sent out ten days ago. I have spoken to priests, secretaries and assistants, and have been completely overwhelmed by their inability to listen to the simple questions being asked of them; I have scheduled a series of administrative and finance meetings with the churchwardens; I have discussed at length, and then authorized the cutting back of a twenty foot hedge behind the church property; I have sat patiently as the pending need for new gutters to be installed on the parish house was painstakingly explained to me, detail after laborious detail; I have studied the latest report on the sale of a small piece of parish property, and then wondered why we pay lawyers far too much money to interpret things which are blindingly obvious; and I am about to try and call a diocesan officer for, I think, the seventh time in the hope that I may actually find him at his desk. (Resume typing. He was not.)
Against the backdrop of all this incredibly dull and distracting corporate activity is my need to sit still, and think about the man who now knows and admits that he is dying, the ones who are sick and weak, the people who are sad and confused, and numerous other dark pastoral clouds that are scudding across my line of sight.
Perhaps it's simply one of those days. The excitement of desk work. Yet I remain quietly hopeful. Whatever tomorrow brings I still, somehow, believe that, "All shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well."