28 Mar 2016

The False Priest

The wind whipped through the sleeves and neck of my coat, and teased the white wisps of scraggy hair framing the priest across the table from me. His black dog sat patiently at his side, only stirring when the waitress from my local vietnamese bakery brought his coffee and some meat for it. Self-ordained and self-proclaimed or not, I call him the priest, as he was clearly very proud of his own holiness and desperately wanted people to know it, desperately wanting to be known.

By the time he had shown an interest in me, he had already distanced the pre-teen girl he was chatting up, and more than once in our conversation asked if he was not sure if I had overheard, but he's a Priest of the local Russian Orthodox Church. Talking briefly about the struggles of quitting smoking as an opening to talk about himself, I sub-consciously shied away from talking about anything more of my own, mainly because of the way he pounced on my utterance of the word relationship to keenly ask if it was with a woman. He spoke mildly and softly at first, undeterred by the traffic noise and wind buffer that seperated us across two tables - but almost deliberately so to entice conversation - and I had moved over closer to him to hear what he had to say. He seemed to have a lot to say.

An Irish-English Catholic immigrant born of Communist IRA sympathisers, his grandfather a Shackleton and one of the party first to the North Pole, his grandmother was raped and killed by the English, and his father was Not a Good Husband or Father, but he thinks the parents should stay together - for the kids. He admired his Melbourne University Lecturers but grew tired of the So-Called Lefties perpetuating the evils taught by Socrates. He could have been an academic, got the grades for it, but for some reason is now a Russian priest. He wants to travel to the Middle East but They won't let him. The Evils of Communism, Muslims and the West are a large cause of the problems in Europe today.

I began tuning out when the priest insidiously slipped in these put-downs to values I hold dear. His manner was so unnervingly calm that I did not at first process them completely, and I stayed for a while, contemplating asking to record him for use in a musical project. The cadence of his voice had an interesting quality to it.

I am proud of my assertiveness today and ability to walk away from bullshit. When the mentions of Evils began piling up, I started gathering my things that were on the table. I felt cold and wanted to be back home, but was being unnecessarily polite, thinking he probably needed some company. As I began to listen to my intuition telling me he was a bit off, I began to notice some things.

I noticed first, that a truly spiritual person would have time to listen and not just talk.

I noticed that he sporadically looked at the Equal Love badge on my coat, and I noticed he carried no crosses or signs of his worth.

It was hard not to notice the final conversation ending give-away, when his face suddenly contorted into a grimace as his own defects seemed to bubble over his trained mask of serenity.

As the mention of Evils began quickening and intensifying into a List of Evils, he suddenly turned his nature, and almost spat "Feminism's another one, and Sodomy. Fucking a guy's arsehole..."

At those words I stood up mid-bullshit, said "Sorry I've got to go, nice to talk", and walked home without turning back.

Self-proclaimed and self-ordained or not, I feel like it is nice to talk to a False Priest every once in a while, to remind myself where the true power lies.

I have not yet met a member of a classical religious institution who knows remotely what God is about.

Thank you, to the God in my life I know and love, for showing me my path of love, acceptance and strength.

I can now say to myself, "That is a sick man, who needs healing. Save me from being angry, he'll learn somehow" and go about my day.

And that day is not down the street talking to deranged old men in the cold.
God does not take bullshit, and nor will I.