THE PRIEST VOW.
It was early November 2007, two days to my 40th birthday.
I drove back from my usual meeting at the coffee shop.
I saw a strange car parked outside the gate.
It appears somebody came visiting.
I don’t have people coming around to visit often. I’m always the one doing the visiting whenever necessary.
I breathed in before driving into the gate.
Immediately I stepped into the house a nice aroma greeted my nose.
Anna came out from the kitchen smiling from ear to ear while wiping her hands with a kitchen napkin.
She greeted me with a wide smile.
“Whatever you are cooking makes my stomach churn. It smells good… where’s Joel?
I asked looking round. He is always the first to run to me anytime I returns.
With him not rushing out to me today makes it suspecious.
“He is at the sitting room with the visitor, reading his nursery rhymes and keeping the visitor entertained.
I looked straight ahead wondering what kind of visitor was in the house.
I walked pass Anna and straight to the sitting room.
It was a man in a clerical attire. He wore a white priest overal with a long chain that has the crucifix big symbol.
He appears to be consumed with what Joel was reading to him
Without raising his head I screamed out his name.
He rose immediately laughing excitedly on seeing me.
He took only few steps with his long legs and was standing at the very place I stood.
We hugged like old buddies.
Is been over four years I saw him, ever since I left the parish house with Anna we have only be talking over the phone.
I and Patrick bond like brothers, we grew up in the same orphanage and he followed my every step and I never mislead him.
He was only a year older than me but has always listened to my teaching and advice.
And when he took the mantle to become a priest and a dedicated one at that, I was very proud of him.
Seeing him again revived our childhood old memory were we study none stop at chapel and eat only when we are done.
Empty stomach usually drives us on and we avoid getting into a fight with other kids.
Patrick wasn’t the only one that listens to me, there were several others. They were either married or in another country living their lives.
“Is good to see you brother…
He greeted still smiling. We took our seats. Anna returned to the kitchen while Joel came to sit beside me.
I spread my hands out to little Joel and he relaxed back on my arm.
“Good to see you too. What brought you to this city?
“You off course. Is been a while father James…five years I guess? I searched out the address you once gave me and decided to pay you a surprise visit. I wanted to be here before your 40th birthday. Everybody misses you, the bishop inclusive and we can’t wait for your return. But… we are exercising a little patient due to our last discussion concerning your twin brother who is reprimanded in prison. And that also remind me about someone. Did you remember Tagbo?
I remembered Tagbo vividly. He was arrested for getting into a fighter with his supposed business partner and his friend died in the process. Tagbo was sentenced to 9years in prison. He was supposed to complete his prison sentence 3years ago.
“,Yes, I remember him very well. We use to visit him and many others in prison back then. I guess he is out by now…
“Yes he is out. Is been over two years he was released after completing his 9years behind bars. He attends church at the parish and also joined the block rosary every Saturday. He is on fire for God and kept asking about you but I informed him that you are on a mission and will return someday when your work is done. Tagbo is building his Life back. He started a electrical engineering workshop a year ago and he is doing well for himself. He is planning of starting a family soon.
I exclaimed happily.
“Wow… that is a good news. I’m glad to hear this.
Anna came out of the kitchen with a filled tray in hand.
She placed it on the table and went back again to bring fruits diced into pieces.
She came and stand in the sitting room giving us some distance. With a smile plastered on her face.
“Please, food is ready. Father James I made one of your favorite. I followed all the recipe just as you thought me.
“Thank you Anna. You are a faster leaner.
She blushed before walking away.
I urged Patrick to the table and he followed.
Joel came along.
I washed my hands before dishing out some food for Joel in his eating bowl.
The table was high for him, I guide him to his own eating table which I bought a year ago for him.
I returned back to the table and said grace over the food before we started eating.
After the meal, Anna who seems to be timing us came to clear the table.
Father Patrick thanked her and I did too.
After clearing the table she brought in a desert and placed close to the mini table were we sat.
“Is this all you have being enjoying father James? I see why you refused to return to the parish. Look at your skin looking olive fresh like a new born child.
Patrick teased, I laughed out.
Anna joined in and we all started laughing.
I ate little out of the desert so that Anna’s efforts in making all the food won’t be in vain.
Me and father Patrick decided to take an evening walk.
Were we get to talk more. He filled me in on all that has happened ever since I left.
I also updated him on my journey so far both with Anna who miraculously led me to Benjamin who is generally called Gumi.
Father Patrick and I went to visit Gumi the following day.
“My childhood friend, we grew up in the same orphanage home. his name is father Patrick and he is also a priest. He came visiting and we decided to check up on you”
I introduced Gumi to father Patrick. Gumi smile as he took his seat.
“James, you make me feel like a celebrity by bringing another priest in this suffocating place. So, how is it that you both grew up in the same orphanage home and became a priest? One of you must have forced the other into this priesthood boring thing. I don’t mean to be disrespectful but being a priest is a total boring game. Wait a second… what do you do when you see a sexy hot lady Walk pass you or what exactly do you guys do when you feel like meeting a woman…I seriously need to understand this and know how all this priest who are not spirit but men with hot blood running in their veins avoid women. I want to understand how you both survive in this same world that I live in.
I sensed sarcasm in his voice and curved my lips into a smile.
As I try to reply him father Patrick asked me not to bother that he got it.
“When a real soldier joins the army, he leaves everything behind and become another man, both his families and friends. He is determined to serve his country at all cost. He took a vow of both rain, sun, good, bad, life and death to be obedient to the authority governing him. he will serve in all circumstances because he took a vow to save his dear country. Now, the Bible said if you are called to do a thing.. do it well. Not in strife, not in anger, not in any form of bitterness as if you are being forced. but in patients, endurance, unity, in love and in godliness not as the world pleases but as God pleases. Gumi, we all chose the part we trade…not by force but by choice. Father James chosed his part and no matter the challenge he faces he is obedient to his calling. I chose mine and not by might but by God’s grace I have served and I will keep serving until i draw my last breath. Gumi, you chosed yours. It was not by force but also by choice. Many found grace and got saved while the rest fell right into the lions den but even in the lion’s den God’s grace can save them if only they will confess and repent of their sins. To answer your question, what we are focused on is drawing as many people as possible to God. We are focused on the work that we are called to do. Worldly pleasure do not entice us. Your mind is a powerful tool and is whatever you let into it that… will take root and germinate. The world maybe corrupt but we are incorruptible. We don’t joke with our vow of celibacy, total abstainecy from any act ungodliness is our motto. God is not to be mocked, He knows and sees every secret thing. What interest and excite you do not affect us because we are sold out to the owner of the universe. Don’t hold back Gumi… God is giving you enough time to confess and come to him. God is a loving father and won’t reject you. Don’t joke with everything in this life because tomorrow is never certain.
Gumi was quiet staring at nothing while listening to Patrick.
One may think the word was taking effect on Gumi but he can’t be easily convinced.
After father Patrick was done Gumi said.
“If God is that merciful then he should make all the officers here blind so that I can break out of this boring prison in peace and he should heal me of this heart problem that has been tormenting me. If God is merciful he should give me enough time to think about the offer of returning to him. I may not be proud of many things I did but I really enjoyed my life outside here. leaving everything behind to become a Church boy is not really my thing. That’s the fact…
Father Patrick tries to talk Gumi out of his evil thoughts but Gumi was far more stubborn than I can even explain.
We left and father Patrick decided to stay more days because of Gumi but his heart was at strong as a rock and not easy to penetrate in.
Father Patrick traveled back after some days.
I knew within me that my time in the city was limited.
Anna found a job, Joel started a preschool.
I was supposed to be making plans of going back to my priesthood but I couldn’t leave Gumi the way he was.
I kept praying for him but Gumi’s heart was hardened.
I watch him at the prison yard struggle with his breathing.
He has being admitted in the prison hospital more than three times because of his serious heart diseases which was eating deep into him.
Salvation comes freely, I can’t forced it down on Gumi’s truth.
Gum needs to frealy accept and believe for him to be saved but he is proving more difficult with each visit.
If it means staying extra year or two for my twin brother to be saved then I’m willing to do so.
He is my only full blood relative which I never knew I had until early last year.
I will keep praying without ceasing for his soul.
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