Sunday, June 1, 2008


Someone said the other day that there is an impression out there that priests do not do anything but sit around the rectory and pray and wait for the phone to ring between masses. “You should let them know that you do other things,” she said to me.

The diocese of Dublin tried to get that message across once. When I was traveling there with Fr. S. we kept passing these signs on the bus shelters that had pictures of men in various activities such as making a goal in soccer or performing. When we had an occasion to see one of these posters up close we were shocked to see that they were vocation posters for the diocese. In small lettering below the pictures it said something along the lines of, “These men are priest of this diocese.” The message was clear. “You can be a priest and still have a life!” I do not know if that was exactly the best way to put the message but I understood what they were trying to do.

Being a priest is my life but to it are added the spices that make everyone’s life more interesting. You have vacation time, continuing education time, retreat time, as well as your days off and at least in this diocese they are fairly supportive that you be loyal to these times. You cannot help someone else if you are burned out, depressed, spiritually depleted, and bored.

I will not go into all the things that I enjoy doing. It is nice to have some privacy, but I’ll share with you one love that I have. We used to spend much more time together when I lived close to her. I have since moved across the diocese and so we do not get to see each other as often but she is always glad when we do. We have been together now for about five years and she grows more beautiful each day. I am talking of course of Maggie, my appaloosa.

This past Sunday we went for a long ride in the woods out back of the farm. There are many trails cut into the woods as the trees are tapped for syrup. The trails however are not in any kind of grid and wander aimlessly wherever they need to go and we became quite lost which was fine, it just meant a longer ride.

This is the season for good riding too. It is cool and the horseflies have yet to show themselves. To loosely borrow from Michner in Chesapeake, “God added the (horsefly) to remind man that no paradise comes free – there are always (horseflies).”

While still assigned to that part of town I would ride the horse to the day school dressed in my finest clerics and call the principal from my cell and let her know I’d be outside for the children.

One of my favorite times was when I was riding through a development with a friend of mine and we were dressed in cowboy hats and riding coats and a little boy went running to his friends in the back yard and we could hear him yelling, “Guys! There are a couple of cowboys riding down the street. Real cowboys!” Shooting back into the front yard he came to a dead stop, his arms fell to his side, eyes opened wide and slack jawed. When he pulled himself together he said, “You look just like the priest from my parish!”

“That’s funny,” I said, taking off my hat in salute, “I am the priest from you parish!”

As a side note – this I the second Mail Pouch sign that I painted. Those of you from farming areas would be familiar with them. This painting replaced the barn that had burned the previous year.


Anonymous said...

Great pics! And you KNOW I love horses. :-)

And I love your response to the kid..that's hilarious!

Anonymous said...

Wow, I have such an urge to chew tobacco right now.. :-) Cool sign, and a pretty Maggie. Although I used to wake from dreams of them with my heart pounding with an aching excitement, my horse-loving time came and went unrequited. They seem just rather helpless oversized Springer spaniels to me, now, only far more dangerous to one's toes (not to even mention one's cup of coffee). Daughter's ex-racetrack "Yazou" is not a horse anymore-- it's her child as well as a mount capable of competing in Olympic feats; I understand that love.

And exactly; if one gets burned out on the inside of their service, two or more will limp, and that's not fair to anyone. I'm glad twice over that you have a fellow wild creature of the earth for a friend. Maggie's pretty lucky, too.


Anonymous said...

I don't know who said it, but it's a quote I've not forgotten (mostly) lol:

"The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man."

And it's true. When I started riding a couple years ago, when I had the money and freedom to do so, I remember how a good ride through the valley completely cleared my head. It was awesome.

Maggie's such a pretty girl! How old is she now?

uncle jim said...

come on adoro - don't grovel
just ask him

"when i come to cleveland to see the vatican exhibit, may i meet maggie ... and take her out for her exercise ... and maybe...?"

Jeffrey Smith said...

I remember Mail Pouch barns well. Even caught the last of the Burma Shave signs.

Anonymous said...

lol, uncle jim I already DID ask him if I can meet Maggie while I'm in Cleveland! Fr. V. never answered...then again, we haven't really planned the trip out yet, either, although a few of us have been throwing ideas around ( you included, lol!)

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm just a bit past spazzed, but where in the WORLD did you get that first photo(!!)? LOL

Fr. V said...

A very calm horse, a chicken with cold feet and a curious dog do wired things. But when we are around the stop. So I snuck in, thrust my hand into the stall and snapped a picture (hence it is blurry). Imagine my reaction when I first saw it!