From time to time I notice that my housecleaning is not what it, perhaps, should be. I notice these cobwebs on my lamp and wonder what in my heart and soul needs to be wiped off, spruced up or even cleaned.
And yet I will never be perfect and if God wanted me perfect I wonder if God would not have…could not have …well…simply made me that way, and spared us all the mess and drama.
When I look at my friends, I know that the real relationships are the ones in which we have disagreements, hurt feelings, arguments, and fits of crying on shoulders. The “polite” friends or the “impressed” friends or, God help me – the “adoring” friends are not the kinds of friendships I want closest to me. They are OK and in ordained ministry they all abound. We clergy are “spiritual friends” to everyone in the parish and on the street. People project onto us, all the time, various kinds of friendships which meet their need at the time for connection; and we get good at recognizing that (unless we do not… and all Hell breaks lose.) We know when a person needs to feel close to us in order to be able to express pain and grief and that is as it should be. But my closest friends are the ones I would call if I were in jail and had only one phone call.
Friendship with God is not dissimilar. It is not hard to tell who adores God but has rarely had a real, honest, gut-wrenching conversation with God. And similarly, it is not hard to see through the veneer of spiritual humility to the reality that some people spend most of their time with the God they publicly adore – and to great benefit to their soul and their ministry – ordained or not.
I am not anti-clerical – most of the time. I just have a healthy sense that people are messy and we lead messy lives and we like others not to see the mess. But I find that I need a few people who see the mess, and love me despite it… even because of it. Or at least alongside it. And my sense is that God, who asks for obedience in many things, has a real soft spot for me. And for my occasional cobwebs.