Sometimes, being a priest is a life or death job. It also means night meetings, office hours and working every major holiday until you die, plus weekends. You don’t really live a life on call – until one of your parishioners dies, or gives birth. There’s more involved with the death, it’s less immediate with the birth, but neither do we typically get to schedule. And though I’m not myself a parish priest, there is a parish I love and help to take care of, and I’ve buried a quarter of them this winter. (Sniff.)
So, this is all to create ambiance – I have a day off. Just the one – Friday. Sometimes I also happen to get other days off, like Saturday, but not always. And sure, I set my own schedule, but I have writing to do and contracts and so this is reality. I don’t schedule meetings on Friday, though funerals often happen at this time, and sometimes I lead retreats over Fridays. But you see, unless some one has died, or the bishop Expects My Attendance, Friday is mine. I don’t return calls, I scan emails to make sure no one has died, and then bugger off to do something interesting with my free hours. (Friday I cleaned, organized and created the trial run of a craft that is currently under tweaking. Also, there was some reading, and a doctor’s appointment.)
Bright and early Saturday morning, after I had gotten up and gone strawberry picking with my eldest sister and her eldest son, I noticed I had voicemail from days previous. Some were from my husband when he was all panicky about my dead cellphone on Thursday night, but then after that was the mystery call from mid-Friday – It was a priest I did not know who gave her cell number and asked to be called at my earliest convenience. She gave no indication of the subject matter of her call, but I adroitly assumed, given her area code, that it was about the bishop’s search.
Now, one of two things, I figure, is going on: Option A, or Option B. Option A is that Sare has just been booted from the process and this is the curtesy call. A valid possibility. They likely have quite a lot of applications to wade through and a week after all of them are in they might be culling the applicant pool.
Option B is that this is an interview, or an initial interview.
(Of course there is also Option X: Sare has no idea what is really going on, and this will all be quite a surprise when she returns the call in a few minutes.)
So, I will admit that I have a moment of sheer panic as I listen. I think – should I call back right the hell now? – but then I calm down. I end up realizing, again, that I’ve begun to identify with roles, and that way lies madness. After all, I am not a role. I’m so much niftier than just a role, even if the role itself seems to be wonderful and much esteemed. And so I continue on with my day. I stop off to get some local honey, as well as another coffee (I’m testing out said crafty project from the day before – it’s a knitted coffee cup holder/warmer/thing). And I proceed to have an incredibly delightful day with my husband. I teach him how to make artisanal nut butter (almond & cashew) and energy bars he can eat, and he teaches me how to make strawberry wine out of half of those strawberries I picked. (The rest, I canned as strawberry juice, freezing the paste to put in desert breads.) All the while he tells me anecdotes about brewing beer.
And so here I am, in the office on Monday morning. There are butterflies in my stomach that I can’t wholly seem to control, but as I even out my breathing and remind myself of how much I am loved by God they seem to settle to a gentle and beautiful tableau, perched among my intestines.
And now, Jarabe de Palo sings to me about how beautiful life is… “Bonito, todo me parece bonito…”