-- photo by Jerome Clarysse
I have a good life. I have a cozy little apartment with lots of character. I have enough food to eat--really good food like veggies and fruits and nuts and eggs. I can afford coffee in the mornings and chocolate in the afternoons (and--let's be honest--evenings). I have an old Toyota that runs well and reflects my quirky personality. I have a job at a good organization with truly incredible people. I have excellent yoga teachers, access to a gym (well, usually!), and health care. I live in a safe(ish) neighborhood and I don't have to worry about bombs being dropped on me. I have long-time friends that know me well and love me anyway, and a few new ones who make me laugh. I have my dogs and the joy they bring. And most of all, I have a deep connection with our God. What more can a girl ask for? "Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man." (Luke 5: 8).
Still, I would be lying if I did not admit that deep down--way down--I am unhappy. I want to be a Roman Catholic priest. I have the education, the experience, the skills, and I also have the call: every single day I hear God asking me to do this. And every single day, I respond, "Yes, Lord, I will do this for you." We share a moment of tenderness as God whispers, "I know." God appreciates my yes, knows its cost. Because although I would make this commitment to God and to God's people, the institution prevents me from obliging.
So, unable to endure any more time in an institutional Catholic environment, I now spend my days at a secular job. It's a good job--I really can't complain. I believe in the organization's mission, the people are fantastic, and I get a decent paycheck for my effort. It's a good set-up. We should all be so lucky. But, the truth of the matter is that it's not really where I'm supposed to be. We do not pray, we do not worship, we are not even allowed to speak God's name. It's so...unsatisfying. I try to remain positive but, truth be told, it's more and more challenging, and each day my spirit dies a little more. I am weary of banging my head against the wall.
The truth is I would be able to accept my exclusion if, say, I wasn't suited for the role--if I didn't have the skills or education or the gift for it. But none of these things are true. Instead, the reason offered is that I don't have the right body. It is pure prejudice, rooted in the age-old belief that there are just some groups of people that are innately superior to others, and that God intentionally designed it this way. This idea of superiority is persistent, and it is the most powerful tool that evil uses to create hell on earth. It is the thing that needs to be rooted out of all human hearts if God's hopes and dreams for creation are to be actualized. And it is the thing that the Catholic Church must confront within itself if the Church is to survive. Yet, the magisterium has shown no real will to do this--to do what we all know in our heart of hearts is right.
Why the hell do you bother, you ask? It's a reasonable question. I stay because there is something in me, down even deeper, that still hopes. Hopes in the steady stream of whispers from God's Spirit to mine. Hopes in the Church's call to be that which it proclaims. Hopes in the Lord's promise of justice for all people. So, while I take time each day to offer thanks to God for the steady stream of blessings I am given, I also kneel at God's feet unabashed and ask for more.