My priest said something the other night that made me think.
A group of us were gathered at a parishoner's house for our monthly meeting; the bishop had planned to join us, but had had to back out at the last minute. We met anyway, and our priest spent most of the time telling pastoral stories (which I love to hear.)
At one point, someone asked him what he thought the theme of his ministry was, or the things he emphasized, or something like that. He thought for a moment and said, among other things, that one gift he really did have was a deep and profound respect for women, as images of the Virgin Mary, as well as for themselves. He said that he loved the innocence and purity that is apropos to women, and that the thing that made him more mad than anything else was a person who would do anything to damage those virtues.
I've been thinking about that all week. I hadn't really realized it, but that is one of the things I like best about my priest. He respects me not just as a person, but as a woman. I appreciate that he treats the women in the congregation as women, not just parishoners. Oh dear, this is not sounding quite right...Hmm.
He was one of the first ones that I told about my decision to be content with singleness, and has always been one of the biggest supporters of that decision. His comment the other night gave me a tiny, faint, glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, he might see a little tiny bit of the Holy Virgin, role model and patron of all women, in me. Maybe? I hope so. I want to be more like her. And I'm glad that there's someone out there who wants that for me, as well.