This came to me a few weeks ago as I was driving to the home of a parishioner under hospice care. The sun was shining through the trees, and the golden light on the lively green leaves was a comforting contrast to the reality of mortality. I hope you enjoy it.
My latest post at Covenant, on secrets and judgement. Johnny Cash gets in there too:
In March, Michael Cover wrote about James Runcie’s Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death. I have not read the book, but I have watched the Masterpiece Mystery series based upon it, Grantchester.I enjoyed the series and appreciate a depiction of clergy dealing with personal issues that rise above buffoonery.
One issue the show brought into stark relief for me, is the tension that builds between Sidney’s desire to investigate and seek the truth — and to share that truth with his detective friend — and the expectation of pastoral discretion. How often can Sidney betray the confidences of his flock before he is no longer trusted by any of them?
The juxtaposition of Sidney’s compulsion to investigate, and his use of his pastoral role to gather information, highlights a contrast I’ve noted between one of my past jobs and my vocation as a priest.
Before I went to seminary I spent four years working as a private investigator in my dad’s investigative agency. But while I was officially employed for four years, I had many more years of exposure, if not experience, as I started going with my dad to work cases — largely worker’s compensation cases in the early years — when I was around seven years old.
This formed me in the experience of knowing things about people that others do not, and in keeping that knowledge largely to myself. (Of course, until I was ordained, there was no absolute requirement of secrecy).
Since I have been engaged in pastoral ministry, and my dealings with the people of God have revealed that the secrets that sometimes come to light are incredibly convoluted, I have been reflecting on the difference between the role of an investigator and the role of a priest.
The featured image is The Allegory of Law and Grace by Lucas Cranach 1472-1553. It is licensed under Creative Commons.