Monday, September 14, 2020

The part I don't like--but need to do

There is so much about being an Episcopal priest that I love--the community, the love, the fun, the relationships, the conversations, the communion (both liturgical and personal).

But there is a part I don't like--but need to do.

The priest at St. John's in Waterbury, where I was for 21 years, called me yesterday. He's on vacation in Maine, and asked me for a pastoral favor.

A couple I married 20 some years ago, were at Waterbury hospital with their 19 year old son on life support. 

Of course I did the favor. This is the part of being a priest that I don't like--but need to do. All the good stuff is to build relationships for moments like these. This is what I need to be to be a priest.

I called them and met them at the hospital half-an-hour later. I'd never seen a patient on so many machines and I've been in Intensive Care a lot.

Masked, I hugged his mom and dad. And then anointed him and prayed for him, holding his hand and touching his face.

Then I asked, "I know this is a hard question, but do you want me to give him last rites?"

They sadly, but earnestly, shook their heads 'yes'.

So, I did.

I'm not sure I've given last rites to a person I baptized as a baby before. But I've baptized lots of babies and given lots of last rites.

I left with more hugs and not a few tears.

I hardly slept at all last night.

He died at 3:18 a.m. this morning.

What a tragedy.

I enjoy the good parts, the joyous parts of being a priest.

But these are the things I was called by God to priesthood to do.

I don't like them--but I need to do them.

These are the times I was chosen to live.

I blame God and thank God at the same time for the pain and privilege to be there for those times.

Those times are why I am a priest.



No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Archive

About Me

some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.