Recently, I attended a wedding party/reception (but not the actual wedding as it was in Ireland) and there was a wedding crasher of the most unusual sort.. and of course it was meant for me.
I met a very pleasant young man, who was there with his wife, who is a colleague of the groom– lawyers most of them in attendance (this is DC after all- you can’t swing a dead cat without… you know the rest) except this guy: you see, he is a priest.
Well of course, I can’t stop myself in mentioning that I too, am a priest- retired I assured him surely, and we exchanged small talk while waiting in line for the buffet. I certainly could have said, “I’m an ambulance driver” or something and that’s where it would have ended- but not today, and not for me.
We became completely disconnected from the entire reception, each of us casting aside our spouses for the good part of 90 minutes- literally sitting in the middle of the saloon on chairs, all but oblivious to everyone else, engaged in what our spouses and friends laughingly joked was “shop talk.”
Well, it got real…
We talked about the nature of sin, the current environment of “Fearful Christians” and what does it take to get Christians to “Stand up and Look up.” We discussed the state of the church catholic, the pope, gay marriage, female ordination.. the whole gambit.
It was a very deep conversation.. my brain hurt. Not in the “ouch too much tequila and too little memory pain” but in the stretched my brain to places it hasn’t gone in a while pain. Definitely took her out for a good ole run around the block.. it was a good ache, one I have not experienced in a long while.
After we returned to our spouses, I realized how much social justice we were surrounded by in this pub, which donates all it’s profits to open small schools in the 3rd world- 18 to date as I recall. I then realized that even in the midst of the examples of this socially responsible business, we priests had missed something, and it made me ponder what the evening meant.
In the midst of our deep conversation, surrounded by the reminders of social justice mission work, all the other attendees went to eat at the top floor of the bar (think loft space etc.) so there we were, two priests, talking about mission, ministry, lost souls, and getting people to stand up, in this room all alone; or so I thought. You see, off in the corner there was a young man… in a wheelchair… all alone.
It wasn’t until we were done talking and returning, him to his wife, and me to my husband, that we realized this young man was left all alone in a room full of people, seemingly forgotten- even by the priests who spent ninety minutes lamenting the fear Christians hold onto, which makes it too difficult for them to stand up.
So, I have been pondering this experience all week and what it means. Some of my priest friends feel that events like this are reminders to me of my priesthood and that I should come out of my self-imposed retirement. I’m not so sure. More often than not, I feel God brought me into ministry, and then showed me it was time to step aside. These reminders of my Christianity are very important to me, and I am certainly open to the gentle wake of the Holy Spirit as it moves through my soul- but I think my time as a true spiritual guide have passed. Still, all in God’s time.
Oh.. almost forgot.. that wedding crasher.. well, I guess I’m not sure. I thought, in my self-centered, self-aware, self-importance ego that the crasher was the Holy Spirit- there to upset my apple cart.
But maybe, The Holy Spirit was there all along, and the man in the wheelchair was his company to keep.
And just maybe, I was the wedding crasher.
May God give you peace…