Monday, February 28, 2011

requiem for a priest

Sometimes I think I know how things should go -- who, for instance, should get an easy death. I think my priest should have gotten a pass.

I don't know if I have explained in my not always succinct manner what hard work it is to die. Or how earnestly we hang on, for that matter, as our attachments, each one a thread, unravel in unpredictable succession.

We tend to focus on how hard it is for the family to watch someone pass (floating, skipping, slipping, wandering, marching, tromping by) -- when in fact -- because here at bluesky we deal in facts-- it is hard physical labor coming in and going out of this world.

Don't let me sugarcoat this for you.

I don't know much about priests. I don't know much about Catholicism except that they have nice windows and some good cathedrals. So it is difficult to know how to comfort a priest who is in unmanaged discomfort, spewing black vomit around the room. I thought I was on the set of the Exorcist only I was the girl and the priest's head was going to spin around. Do you say, "Its going to be okay, honey." ? Do you call the priest honey? Is that wrong?

And I thought about praying with him, for him, then remembered that Catholics don't believe mere mortals have access to God, big G, without an intermediary. But in this case, the middle man was dying so I had to improvise. I chose the 23rd Psalm.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want
He leadeth me beside the still waters
He maketh me lie down in green pastures
He restoreth my soul

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I shall fear no evil, for Thou art with me

And that's when it got me. He was sitting in that valley. And he struggled and struggled

And then came the social worker, one of those well-meaning sorts who wants so badly to assign spiritual meaning to physical events. She didn't know my priest. She didn't know that he would thank you graciously if you stuck a needle in his eye. She watched as my priest was touching his mouth and reaching out his hand repeatedly, smiling and nodding, and she was certain he was giving everyone a final blessing, but as the outcome showed, he was just looking for a place to puke.

1 comment:

Body of Words said...

This is a great post. I love the juxtaposition of the sublime and the banal. Sometimes, as you point out, the most important thing on earth is finding a place to puke. I love this wacky human condition.

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