Today while at the soup kitchen I help out with on Thursdays the idea of Priesthood crossed the surface of my mind and heart…it never crossed my mind, primarily since I’m not Roman Catholic, but…it all started when I was talking to one of the regulars.
James* was so kind to help shovel the handicap entrance for one of our guests, I tried to help but he commandeered the situation and I let him. Him and I haven’t had a good conversation in a while, but since I was already out there he started talking to me about his 9 year stint in the military that started in the early 90s during Desert Storm. He told me his job was as a sniper and he told me about some of his kills, and he also told me about the time…”for good reasons militarily, but bad reasons politically”… He called in an airstrike that killed 91 civilians/women/children, not counting “the enemies”.
I told him to stop, not for my sake, but if stirred some PTSD within him and he says he doesn’t suffer from that when he’s awake but he has mornings where he wakes up from nightmares that recall what he did and he screams and cries out for his actions…
I could see that anything I could’ve said to bring comfort to James in that conversation would have been bullshit, and frankly speaking James would have called me out and rightly so.
Then there’s my involvement with other people at the soup kitchen, I’ve served and dined with prostitutes and their johns. I’ve hung out with those who use drugs and those who sell drugs and I’ve even been told where the closest abandoned house that is a crackhouse. Some of my favorite people there are drunks, and I’ve been there when they’ve gone through the bends of drinking too much. I know a few Schizophrenics who desire greatly to love God with all their heart, mind, and strength…but it’s hard to love God with your mind when it plays tricks on you, telling you to harm someone or yourself, when it tells you that someone is there and there isn’t anyone there….
So am I sounding board or a confession booth? Do people share with me their life, their stories, their good moments and bad because they want my sympathy or do they want some absolution I cannot offer… and sometimes I wonder if it has nothing to do with sympathy and/or absolution.
I wish I could take shake off the majority of what I hear, but my compassion at times is my weakness & I wish in my heart that these people that I serve, these people that I love could find that peace. Granted, God alone can provide that peace, but I live in doubt myself how could I wish for peace and resolution when I myself have a hard time finding it for myself?
I don’t know, and I’m fine with not knowing, not out of a mindset of “ignorance is bliss” but a mindset that says I rather hand all of this over to God and trust he knows what he’s doing.