Just so we’re clear on something: Priests Have Feelings, Too! One of the worst feelings a priest has is when parishioners he is particularly close to depart into error (for instance, leaving the Orthodox Church). Sure, anyone leaving is a sad occasion, but when people you have worked closely with and spent a great deal of time with leave, it adds to the pain on a human level. The following poem is something I wrote when this occurred to me a few years ago, and I offer it to give insight into what occurs inside the heart of a priest during these types of situations.
Don’t tell me the bad news!
Enough! Only the good I want to hear.
I can’t deal with these issues.
Hurt and fear arise inside me.
I know the platitudes—
Just trust in God! It will be alright!
I know in my head this is true,
But my heart is aching.
The pressure inside my chest grows
My neck is stiff, and I’m light-headed.
My consciousness is leaving the room
Bit by bit, I am slipping away.
I’m not here anymore
So much of me has grown dead
It’s all withering away
Nothing will be left.
So recently you were here
All of one mind, I was so happy
My friends, my partners: one team
One goal, one aim, one life.
Your faith was a consolation to me
Now our experiences have become shadows
Photos, dreams, memories
But nothing new.
I pray you will come back.