I meet them at the supermarket, at meetings, and more.
It's written on their faces.
In their words.
In their concerns they express to me.
They're decent human beings just out to make a living and pay the bills we all have to endure.
Yet, the systems that should help them be happy seem to lay heavy burdens, demands, expectations, and more.
One gal I met at Kroger about 9:30 pm told of the hours she puts into her work in a parish. Today was a long day also, she complained.
I tell the boss to lighten up and slow down, she said.
With heart issues and more, I apologized for how's she's treated, if it's true.
Then, another dedicated worker told of how he has decided to leave the community he loves and volunteers at regularly.
He also is a passionate leader in the community.
Both are respected.
"I can't take it anymore," he admitted.
Policies and postures and the way the people's money is spent on election campaign issues worry him, he said.
Two voices who will walk with their feet since they have no vote in their church.
I ached as I heard them.
Every one else matters also.
It was easy for me to concur with their complaints. I've been there.
Ever since I spoke up about how gay women and men are treated and labeled, I too have felt a sense of estrangement. Officials seem to have broken communion with so many, and, me.
It's the 50th anniversary of the start of the second Vatican Council and it's as though it never happened, one of them said.
How true, I thought.
Collaboration, engaging the charisms and gifts of the people, full, active and conscious participation in liturgy limited, and . . .
Deeper prayer and fasting will help I hope.
I'd hate to think that there are more stories like these two, and my own.
Thank God, I thought, for being ultimately the One to whom all will be accountable for how we are church, including so-called 'John Paul II priests', 'Vatican II priests', JP II parishioners, Vatican II parishioners, and, those in the call to holiness, and, those in the call to action camps, as officials dub 'em all it seems. How convenient. Yet, how sad. How dismissive. How fear-driven a church we are today.
Is anything, anyone so easy, so simple to categorize, or dismiss? I think not.
My heart breaks thirty six years after I was ordained.
Never did I imagine a church like this.
I trust that God is in it somewhere, some how, however.
After all, I pledged commitment to follow Christ through thick and thin.
And, I will follow him to the end, so help me God.