"it's great that you got a job there, just don't get stuck," he said. "excuse me," i countered, "what exactly do you mean." "well, don't take this the wrong way," he opined, "but i've known a number of seminarians who started lightway as a means to an end only to find out that it was more of the latter than the former."
of course no one really talks like that, slinging terms like latter and former into informal conversation, but that's how i remember it. it was early fall in the year of our Lord 2000 when i met this stranger at a seminary ice cream social - which is pretty damn close to my idea of hell - and before i knew it he was offering unsolicited advice on my life. i don't know about you, but i hate it when people do that.
provided, of course, that unsolicited advice does not emanate from me.
anyway, at the time i scoffed at the guy's advice and i forgot to heed the warning. in the end it took a five and a half years and an unexpected firing to set me free from the bonds of lightway and another year or so for the wisdom of that guy's words to hit home.
i wish i would have listened to him as well as to the advice of the long-term missionary who encouraged me in the midst of my college years to choose the pastorate over academia and the accompanier who suggested i stay at l'arche instead of subjecting myself to seminary.
but so it goes. you make your choices, some good and some bad, and then spend years trying to bind the bits together by remembering the wisdom of unsolicited opinion, learning from the road not taken and perhaps even praying if that's your sort of thing.
maybe it's just the influence of sacred games and the yiddish policeman's union but lately life feels a lot like an unsolved case that it's going to take a holy sleuth to unravel. on my better days i believe that ultimately the criminal will be caught and convicted and whatever is beautiful, good and true will be set free. but on my worst days, i have my doubts whether things will conclude as cleanly and quickly as a hardy boy's mystery. i think that's what faith is for me, namely, trusting that once again the holy sleuth will get his man.
one way or another, here's to the mystery.