Wednesday, April 13, 2005

What They Say 

When you meet someone outside your place of work, and you're not wearing an obvious uniform, do they seem to know how to react when you tell them what you do? Do they treat you differently after you tell them?

One of the weirdest, most fun, but often quickly annoying responses I find in the spectrum of human reactions in social situations is when the words, "I'm studying to become a priest," come out of my mouth. One of two reactions is almost immediate. They are either sorry for you, or, more common, they are sorry for something they did or said in your presence. Sometimes a litany of past perceived grievances surfaces and sometimes they just look like you've punched them in the gut. Rarely, you get an appreciative glance or a knowing smile.

There's a couple of guys who work out at the gym around the same time I do, and over the past year or so, we've become friends. I knew that one of them had a long running, distinguished career as a postman, so I was not surprised when I saw him at Seabury, picking up some mail. It was during the last station of the Good Friday service, so we did not get a chance to chat as I was occupied. When I mentioned it to him the next time I saw him in the gym, he said he thought it was me but couldn't tell for sure. Then he asked me what I did there. See previous paragraph.

Now, it seems, our relationship is changed. And I don't like it. Every day now a religious joke of some sort is made. Like when I struggle to do my final rep on the bench, he or one of his friends will call out, "You gotta say a 'Hail Mary' if you don't pump that one out!" Then comes the barrages of questions, "Can you get married?" "Can you drink," "Why are you in here all the time? Shouldn't you be praying," I didn't know priests worked out," and so forth. It'll calm down after a while and things will settle back down to normal, but in the meantime, it is frustrating. I want a bumper sticker that reads, "Priests are normal people too!"



How can you not like it? Humor like that doesn't come cheap!

By Blogger BrotherBeal, at 12:23 AM  

Normal? As if any of us is really normal, eh?

By Blogger Dawgdays, at 2:01 AM  

ha - just the thought of me sensoring myself around you because you're studying to be a priest makes me laugh ;). And you are far from normal.

By Anonymous stephanie, at 11:15 AM  

Amen Brother! I'd like to sign up for one of those bumper stickers. As a woman I not only get the married question but sometimes the "is it biblical"/women can become priests? question. I've had the apologies, and questions (but thankfully not the "hail Mary" workout partners) and have wanted to say, have said, hey... I'm like you, I'm still the same person you were talking to a minute ago. But...I hate to tell you that a book we're reading for ethics (Calling & Character, virtues of the ordained life by William Willimon), seems to be saying that even though we may think we're the same and we're "normal" and just like everyone else, no matter how much we say it others will still see us as different, and will hold us to a higher standard after we are ordained.

I wonder if some gentle education and honesty might be helpful in this situation if you don't want to just ride it out, like, "ummm actually we don't really pray hail mary's all that much" or "hey guys, ever since you found out I'm in seminary you've been treating me different, do you think we could just work out like we used to?"

p.s. glad you're working out, it shows you've kept some balance in your life.

God Bless you and strengthen you in the pursuit of this calling.

Peace, bythesea
(an Episcopal Middler - soon to be Senior, ack!)

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:52 PM  


Thanks for your comments here. I too am a middler, alomst a senior! I believe Williamon is right to warn us of such, but that doesn't make it any more fun. If it keeps up at the gym, I will mention it, ut it seems to be petering off now. Anyway, thanks a bunch for your comment and your readership! Blessings on you as well! See ya around.


By Blogger Ryan, at 11:14 PM  

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