I’d known him almost a decade
intuition was aware of missing years
vague comments of education in perpetuity
a range of disciplines. No degree. Or time abroad.
Everybody was almost experienced travellers then
youth liked to namedrop exotic locations
one serial offender nicknamed ‘Winnie’
pejorative for “when I was in …….”
Africa, Asia, Europe, constant exposure, perceived immunity
until the unexpected – “when I was in the seminary.”
Priesthood studied nearly complete : vows looming
matter of fact disclosure understates lifting of suppression.
Nearly seven years – a lifetime from 18 to 25
almost, but not quite. No broad doubts about vocation
rather a specific truth of self.
Training encompassed regular interviews with the rector
monthly, one to one
theology, spirituality, the harvest is great, the labourers few
the burden of being a chosen one.
In the final year a new rector
a short meeting and long thought.
Reports from teachers and parishes were excellent
progress could not be faulted ….. but the rector “had just one question.”
The momentous is often presaged by immediate knowing
screeching brakes, late-night phone, a never before tone.
It was the pause the almost reverend remembered
the pause preceding the compassionate authority of question
“Anthony, are you happy?”
Not to be answered now. To be thought about.
One month later. The same room. Was the last meeting recalled?
And the question?
Did he have an answer? Yes. The answer was no.
The rector said, “I think you know what to do.” He left that afternoon.