12 April 2011


Image: Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives by Frederick Edwin Church, 1870.

Holy Week draws near. I am not at peace, for many reasons. My dissertation is not progressing at the rate I'd like, and I blame my own laziness. The house is not clean. My husband's boss is ill, and the prognosis and potential treatments seem to change every week, so that we do not know if he will retire or stay on, if he will take medical leave or not, if my husband will have any opportunity for a much-needed vacation this summer if the boss cannot be at work. The dog is...well, the dog. His epilepsy is under control, but the twice-yearly blood tests that accompany the medication are not cheap, and he continues to flip-flop between being cutely affectionate and testing the limits of our tolerance.

A few weeks ago, I found out that the former pastor of the parish I grew up in had died. He heard my First Confession and gave me my First Communion, Confirmed me (a story for another day), received my father into the Church and convalidated my parents' marriage. So, he would have been an important person in my life even if I didn't like him. I did, as it happens, like him. He was not a very good preacher, he didn't give acute spiritual advice, and he wasn't a good business manager. He was humble and kind.

He left our parish under rather mysterious circumstances, about 10 years ago. There were some accusations that he'd had an affair with an unmarried woman near his own age. It's sad, perhaps, that the news of the exact nature of the accusations, after having heard rumors of misconduct, was almost a relief. There had been a horrible scandal about eighteen months before which involved our bishop, our parochial vicar, a couple of teenage boys, and a lot of embezzled funds. So perhaps you can understand why an affair with an adult woman seemed so normal and tame. Nevertheless, probably because our diocesan shame was so recent, Father was spirited away, literally removed in the night, and we never saw him again. Newspaper coverage abruptly stopped, and all we were told was that he'd gone home to the place where he grew up. Never whether he was guilty or not, or what happened to him. This ate at me for a long time. Thankfully, I discovered that I know a priest in the diocese where my former pastor died, and he was able to fill in some blanks for me, and give me a little peace.

Now, tonight, I find news via Facebook that my high school mentor, my favorite teacher, will not have his contract renewed at my alma mater. He is to be let go at the end of the term. No one has said why, only that it is not, as some speculated, for budgetary reasons (he is the most senior teacher, and thus the highest paid, hence the speculation). A cold little fear gnaws at my heart, a fear that I may not ever know why this decision was made. A fear that they have no reason, or a fear that they do have reason? I can't imagine that they have a real reason, although they may have imagined one. But it scares me a little. My college mentor quit his job the year after I graduated, largely because of institutional politics. O halcyon days, when I dreamed of sending my children to the same schools I attended! There's no reason to, now, since they will soon not be the schools I remember.

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