If you had told me, when I was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in May, 1993 that a Sunday morning would be like this, I would have told you that you were crazy.
Today is Sunday. I am up early. As I do every morning, I woke up next to my amazing wife. I am beyond blessed to share my life with her. Her love, friendship, support and care are more than I will ever deserve. In many ways, her love for me is a glimpse of the type of love that God has for me and for all of us. She supports my priestly ministry, puts up with the phone ringing at odd times, weekend and evening appointments and meetings and a host of other responsibilities. Not only does she ‘put up’ with these, but she accepts them and wants me to be able to minister well to my congregation. If you would have told me I would have an amazing wife to share my life with and be able to be a priest, I would have said, “Maybe in another century or so when the clergy shortage reaches a greater acuity than it already has, but not in my lifetime.” And yet I get the privilege of waking up next to her every morning.
This morning a little girl woke up extra early. She told me, “When I wake up in the morning the first question I ask is, ‘Where is my Dad?’” She got up to say goodbye to me. She wanted to take a bath to get ready for when she and her Mom would go to church later in the morning. If you had told me, back when I was ordained on that beautiful May morning that, while in my clerical garb and getting ready to leave for my parish in order to celebrate the Eucharist with God’s people that I’d be holding a little girl wrapped in a big towel, smelling her shampooed and conditioned hair and telling her that I love her and that I love being her Dad, I would have asked you what planet you lived on. And yet this morning, that happened. And some version of this happens to me pretty much every day.
I am grateful to have found ‘home’ in the Episcopal Church where my vocations can co-exist, support each other and be celebrated. It’s simply not true, the rationale we were given, that to minister as a priest means one must be single and un-connected. That may well be the case for some, and may God bless and support them in their ministry and on that well-trod path to serving God in that unique way. For lots of us (male and female) who are not called to a single life, it is also very possible and life-giving to minister to God’s people as one who, like most of them, is married and has a family. For this, I am most grateful today.