In my newfound, barely three-month old state of retirement’s liberty from the all-consuming labor of active ministry, I have begun to take (find?) the time and give the energy to face an inner struggle between Paul the person and Paul the priest. Long have I experienced these two facets of my ontological self-understanding as distinct; at times, as close as “kissin’ cousins” and, at other times, nearly polar entities. In the latter state of association (or disassociation), usually I allowed the priestly image (i.e., the outward projection of what I believed a priest should be and do) to overwhelm, consume my identity as a person. Great confusion would erupt when the natural drives and desires of my will as a person came to the surface, beckoning, demanding access to the persona, that channel of the expression of myself (my self) to the world.
Now, in the vigor of retirement, I believe that I see finally, and with the confidence of consistency, how to reconcile these two parts of me; welcoming my “person” home from the land of aimless wanderment, at times, estrangement that exists somewhere in the recesses of my unconscious.
I, Paul, am a person with all the history and memory, thoughts and feelings, wants and needs, intentions and actions, words and deeds appertaining to my humanness, thus, akin to and distinct from all persons in that these appurtenances are of the hue and texture of my individual mental and emotional, physical and spiritual fabric and makeup. I also am a priest who was first and always created by God to be this particular person.
If I am to be whole or as I, by the grace of God’s Spirit-guidance, will to be and become (and remain) whole, then the priest is to be expressed through this, my person and not the other way ‘round.