It has occurred to me that I need to start cultivating younger friends or I'm going to run out. Since I was a child I have always gravitated towards "wisdom figures". I wept bitterly on the last day of school from the third grade right through high school. My teachers were my first real guides and friends. After school I would sometimes stop by for a cup of tea and then work in the garden. While I was in college I was the weekly housekeeper for my retired eighth grade English teacher, and we remained friends until I was well into my thirties when she passed away.
My first priest friend fell into my life when I had surgery at the age of thirteen and hit it off with the hospital chaplain. Since then I have met and added to my list of "inner circle friends" a number of priests. I'm not sure why. It's not a plan. If there's someone in a sweatshirt and jeans at a party and we have a wonderful time talking about important things, at least six times out of ten I'll find out he's been ordained. I guess I see the human being behind the Roman collar, and treat him accordingly. And sometimes very irreverently, which we all need once in a while to keep our feet tethered to Earth. My husband considers the clergy part of my dowry, and he and my children have become the family that some of these men never had. It's "win, win" until you get to today when one of them leaves and then everyone is reeling in pain. I suppose that's true any time you open your heart wide to let someone into the inner circle. The pain is in proportion to the depth of the joy received. And over the years this family has been blessed with great joy.