In the last year as I've been returning fully and wholly to the church, I've done a lot of reading, mostly of blogs, lots of articles, a few books and I've done a lot of writing. A lot of my thoughts about my faith or return to it I've worked out in my fiction through my main character. While I don't think my character is a true stand-in for me, she has a lot of me in her and so I've probably worked out a lot of my thoughts in my story. Now I fear I'll find a market for my story, with it's strong Hispanic, Catholic characters, who learn a big family secret that takes them on an adventure they didn't expect. Sounds pretty good, huh?
Anyway, my point. I was thinking about my main characters (twin brother and sister) and how different their lives become. I was thinking more about the brother, a priest, and some of his thoughts. He's the character I have the most trouble with, as he's a man and a priest and I don't know what it's like to be either. While I know the priests at my parish, I don't know them well, but they're good, compassionate men. They're smart, caring and very devout to their vocations. I think they all share qualities my character might have, but I also try to not model my characters on anyone I know, which makes it hard sometimes, which really brings me to the whole point of this post. Really.
In my moments of procrastination, uh, I mean free time, I was reading through some of the blogs I read and Father Z (from What Does the Prayer Really Say?) linked to this post by (I'm guessing a youngish) Irish Priest who expressed so poignantly and honestly about the loneliness he was feeling at the moment. It touched me tremendously and it made me realize that these men and other religious have given up a lot for their vocations and we may never think twice about their lives outside of the church or where we see them publicly. I think sometimes we view them from the pews as men above us and not like us. We are the people under their watchful eyes and in their spiritual care. We may have casual conversations with them after Mass, maybe nothing beyond that, unless we're fortunate to have them as friends or family in real life, and even then, we may not always see them for being our brother, father, son, cousin, friend, etc. They are men of God and we always put that first, which I think we should, but they are also human and want to be treated as such and we don't. Sometimes, they aren't near their families and don't always have others to turn to for support because so many of them live alone or are the only priest in a church.
And the other thing that occurred to me is that their loneliness isn't that much different from ours, those of us not living in vows or consecrated life. Every one suffers from periods of feeling lonely. ( I do believe alone and lonely are two different things.) I'm an only child and have been alone for so much of my life, but I haven't always been lonely. Most of the time, I'm not, but every now and then it hits me. Even married people feel that loneliness. My parents live totally separate lives now that they're older and I know they both feel lonely from time to time.
As a single woman, I feel it a lot and have begun to even question if I will ever find someone to share my life with. I want to have a family and share that with someone, but as I've lived most of my life single, I think I can continue to do so if that's meant to be. I just don't know about not having the children part. That I just can't imagine not having.