Finally we have a priest who is speaking about his heart adventures!! Well, I’m not promising anyone that he is going to answer all questions or any questions at all. At least we can have a glimpse about how he seas this new person in his life. Maybe some day in the future he will continue to reveal more about his life in the parish. Obviously we are hiding his identity for practical purposes.

I’m Gabriel, a Catholic priest in my late 50s. 

I was ordained when I was in my mid-20s.

I’m 5 foot 10 inches (1.8 metres) tall. I’m fit and lean: a testament to the control I use when choosing only clean living and what goes into my body.

I’m a busy Pastor where I spend 8-12 hours a week driving between my rural parishes and diocese offices. On my “day off” I enjoy swimming and video chatting with friends and family. 

I’m a happy priest and I feel loved and admired by my parishioners: especially the seniors many of whom I have formed a close bond with.  In fact, they love me so much that they petitioned the diocese to keep me in their parishes instead of moving the Pastor every 2 years as is the norm in my diocese.  I’ve been there for nearly 7 years now.  

I thrive on the predictability of my daily life as a Pastor. I like to be in control of my world and refers to myself as “somewhat of a control freak”, though I’m very careful to never try to exert control over others.

I would like to share with you about something which happened today that shook my inner self.

Today I saw a woman. She is new, but somehow seems familiar.  There is something about her.  Something that draws me in and is enticingly frightening,  Like I’m playing with fire and want to get burned.

Something.  I can’t put my finger on it.

She has this sadness in her eyes.  Those eyes, big, beautiful and brooding. Sad, but sparkling – How does that work??  She looks healthy enough but yet seems frail and fragile.
 She is wearing makeup.  Why? to cover something up?  Not some physical imperfection, but something else that she doesn’t want the world to see?   I imagine her with no makeup.  Freshly showered, clean, hair wet.  Oh no, don’t go there!.  I’m immediately trying to guess her age.  Young, too young.  I guess about 15 years younger than me.  My brain starts arguing with itself – Too young for what exactly?  Stop it you fool!

I introduce myself.  I don’t even know what I said, in all probability something absurd, because for some reason, I’m not thinking clearly.  I wonder if she thinks I’m examining her a little too closely so I avert my gaze towards the other parishioners, only to look back to find that she is still looking at me.  Now I’m embarrassed.  Do I look okay?  Is my hair messed up?  Can she see into my soul?  Okay, gain your composure.  Act professional.  You’re not a teenager!  What is wrong with me?  I’m sure she thought I’m an idiot.  Oh no, I feel like I’m staring.  What in the world is happening here?  I shake her hand and somehow my other hand comes up and I have her hand in both of mine now.  I think probably that’s a little too friendly too soon but I’m committed now and  I blurt out “I hope to see you again – WE hope to see you again”.  She thanks me and leaves and I have to consciously remind myself not to watch her walk all the way through the welcoming area and out the door.
You’re acting like a fool Father.  Don’t feel much like a “Father” right now.

I go back to the elder I was speaking to before who immediately says “She’s lovely isn’t she?”  Oh my Lord.  What an imbecile I am.  Now I’ve embarrassed myself twice already in a span of about 2 minutes.  I don’t answer and try to resume the conversation we were having before my brain and my heart decided to go their separate ways.  But I can’t focus and feel the need to find quiet and solitude. Nevertheless, I carry on with all the necessaries and all the niceties I’m on cruise control, robotic.  All the while I want to bolt to the parking lot in case I can catch another glimpse of her.

I should have asked the elder who she is.  She seemed to know her.  No, that would be a huge mistake.  Oh well, it’s too late now. 
Why am I so out of control?  Why do I not feel like a priest right now?  I’m feeling guilty already.  Why?  Have I done something wrong?  Maybe I should talk to someone.  No, I don’t want to do that either.  I’m probably reading way too much into this.

I find myself praying that she comes back again but I feel thrown off.  Maybe I don’t want her to come back.  God help me.  What is happening?  I feel unsettled. 
A missed opportunity, or perhaps I dodged a bullet. 

I spend the rest of the day trying to get her out of my mind and trying to determine whether I am happy that I met her or not.  And to regain my confidence which is inexplicably shaken.

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