Monday, October 24, 2005


My favourite priest is leaving. He said his last Mass today and I found tears snaking down my cheeks as he went out to a rousing rendition of "Shine Jesus Shine" by the youthful congregation (it was a youth mass). He is Irish with rosy cheeks and a comforting beard. I went out for coffee with him once and he was so terribly kind. Yes me, the superlative sinner having coffee with a priest. Laughable, I know, but there it is.

During Mass, they sang the "Prayer of St Francis":

Oh grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to consoled
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love with all my soul.

And I thought, maybe that's what's wrong with me. I seek to be consoled and understood. Not to either console or understand. It's a Liz Wurtzel-brand of self obsession. Oh poor me, my life's all fucked up. But it isn't see? It's great. I guess self-obsession always leads to this kind of freefall into emotional hell. Everything seems dark and hopeless and you don't even know why. You try to assign reasons for the void, but none actually make sense.

I walked to Blockbuster after Mass to return a DVD and thought about what it would be like to become a nun and lead a life of prayer and contemplation. Poverty, chastity and obedience. Away from these complicated complications that I don't understand. Maybe I would find peace.

And then I get a flashback to when I was 17 and I actually told our school nun that I wanted to join the Convent. She was kind. But she said:

"The religious life isn't a place to escape from life. You only join if you feel the call. And believe me you'll know if you feel the call. It's not ambiguous."

So I didn't get to run away. I had to "live" instead. Except that life hasn't felt like anything so much as a series of head-on collisions. I have barely survived. I spent three years in another place recuperating, getting my head around things again, sitting quietly in parks, smelling roses on my way back from the bus-stop. And now I have to return to the centre of chaos and something inside me just shrivels.

I don't know if I can take it. Underneath the bravado, I am scared and lost and helpless and alone. I don't want to fight anymore.

1 comment:

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