natesmountain (natesmountain) wrote,


Today, in the supermarket, I ran into an old friend, a priest, with whom I used to be really close years and years ago, when he was young and I was single we were both relatively new teachers. He and I shared the trials of teaching in a boys' college, and he had the added burden of having to live there in community as well! We were different but shared a common soul searching and desire for peace in our lives. He found it out of teaching. I loved him very much, I guess I still do, and no, we never did anything like that, unlike some of our friends ;-) He is still a priest and I admire him for that tenacity. He's also a really creative artist. We've always tried to stay in touch through letters and cards over the years.

We had some interesting times back in the mid-eighties. Peter introduced me to a prayer group I belonged to for a year back then. When I ran into the tree at the park and staggered back to school with blood on my face, it was Peter who drove me home. He and his friend Kevin once said a Mass in my flat before breakfast! My non-Catholic flatmate joined in, bemused and fascinated! Peter taught me about art and religious meaning, and showed me the value of a Jerusalem Bible. I think I probably showed him how to laugh out loud *g*

It was so good to chat today. Years ago, he had a kind of - I don't know if you'd call it a breakdown or just a revelation - that he needed to get OUT of school, so he just vanished from school mid-term. No one but the boss at first knew what had happened. By then I was teaching in another Catholic boys' college. He sent me a letter saying that he was up north on a priest's retreat property, and sent a list of what he needed from his room. I drove up one weekend to give him the stuff he needed and I took a bundle of letters his class had written him. It was a hot sunny afternoon. We shared those letters, and we talked. The house was a fantastic, glorious old homestead in the country, with huge verandahs out the back that housed a selection of old armchairs. We sat out in the armchairs, looking across the former sunken rose garden to the rolling plains of farmland, sipping tea and just being there. It was hard to talk at first, but eventually we faced his leaving and talked about it. I think it was good. Then later we drove into Palmerston North for milkshakes with real strawberries which we sipped on the grass in the Square (same place I went for that course recently). It was a special afternoon in my life. I kind of recreated that verandah and that forum for sharing at Mickey's place in 'Safe'. I'll never forget that day, or all the things we shared over the years, and I think we'll always be friends, no matter how much contact we have or don't have. Great friendships transcend all distance, all changes, all time.
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