3.1.2015 Journal Prompt

Photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson
Photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson

March 1, 2015: In their pretty dresses…

One Reply to “3.1.2015 Journal Prompt”

  1. I should be certain. Beyond all doubt. Like a rock for others to hold onto in this troubled sea that is the life we have. I should be sure. To have come this far, to be now a pupil at the Pontificio Collegio Leoniano, you would think I was so far from doubt. You would think I’d been tested and found unshakeable in everything, but especially in my faith. But I just do not know.

    Father Lorenzo nods and he scratches at his scruffy beard and he smiles. He knows that in the dusty silence he leaves between us, heavy as pillars or roofs, that I will say more, that I will talk myself around all my thoughts. Father Lorenzo has the wisdom of age and I think that is why he can smile when I am so tossed and torn; I think he sees a way through the storm of my contradictory beliefs.

    At the end of our sessions, he says a prayer and he lays one hand gentle on my bowed head. I think of the Holy Spirit descending as a dove over the head of the baptized Christ and I wonder if it is a blasphemous thought. I feel the warmth in the palm of Father Lorenzo and I feel that warmth passing through me.

    ‘If Thomas found it hard to believe and he was there, then it is little wonder that we find it hard,’ said Father Lorenzo once, just as I was leaving. I have picked apart all those words and I stumble always on that ‘we’ for I wonder then if Father Lorenzo has the same trouble and I wonder if he wrestles his doubt to the floor and is triumphant over it day after day, and I must do the same.

    I tell none of the others in the seminary. With them I am calm and soft spoken and slow, so that I appear certain, weighing all my words as my father weighs fruit in the market – and he always puts more in the brown paper bag than he charges for, which is Christian generosity but which does not mean that he profits much. I do not even tell Corradeo, with whom I am closest, and who prays with me sometimes and he says he is jealous of the song in my voice when I preach and he straightaway asks forgiveness from me for the sin of envy in what he says. I do not even tell Corradeo.

    Only Father Lorenzo knows. Or maybe he has discussed this with one of the other priests, for I catch Father Placido watching me some mornings at breakfast, and he smiles the same smile as Father Lorenzo, and he nods and he makes shapes with his mouth that might be kisses or prayers. And the thing is, I some mornings want them to be kisses, and then I must wrestle that thought into submission, as I did when young and I sat on the chest of a boy called Piero and I held his arms pinned down and I dribbled spit into his mouth.

    Father Placido and he is pretty in his priest’s frock and I think I blush when he looks at me over breakfast. And I think then that I cannot do this, cannot be a servant of God if I have such thoughts about Father Placido. And in the heavy silence that is between Father Lorenzo and myself some days, I want to say about Father Placido, and I want to say that in him is centred all my doubt, but I do not.

    I kneel before Father Lorenzo, and I feel his hand warm on my head, and I hear the words that he blesses me with, familair and soft and round, like a stone that is turned over and over in a flowing river and it becomes a perfect pebble. And I think of the Holy Spirit made manifest in a dove descending, and I think of Father Placido, and all my faith is shaken again.

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