So I have to admit that, despite how truly wonderful my assignment is, it's easy for me to feel a bit lonely and isolated. Part of this is simply the transition out of the seminary and into the "real world" - I quickly went from having 90 other seminarians around all the time to living in a rectory with one other priest. Father Labrie, the pastor of our great parish, is really a gem of a man and has been very warm and hospitable towards me, but I do miss having my seminarian friends around to hang with, to study with, and to pray with. I knew this was coming, so I was more or less prepared to make this transition. However, another reason for my bits of loneliness and isolation is that, well, I'm far away from everything I've ever known and experienced. My entire family is 5+ hours away...some of my long time childhood friends (with whom I'm still very close, thank God!) are just as far. It'll take me some time to get settled here and to make new friends, so I really just have to deal with this new transition in strides and trust that with a bit of grace and some effort on my part I will soon begin to feel like I'm home.
But you know, in the meantime, God really does provide...and that's where Nate comes in.
|Nate sitting by my desk in the office|
Nate is a handsome Golden Retriever, the faithful companion of our pastor...and my new housemate. He's a playful and gentle pup, always ready and eager to greet any parishioner who comes to the office with his friendly puppy dog eyes and his wagging tail. I was unsure about living with a dog at first...after all, anyone who knows me knows that I'm pretty particular when it comes to just about everything, not excluding dog smells, hair, barking, etc. But I have to say, this pup has grown on me. From the moment I arrived he's latched on to me...whether it's when I'm sitting in my office and he plops himself down in front of my desk or when I'm outside grilling and he's keeping me company. Maybe it's just his friendly disposition, or maybe it's because he sensed that I needed a friend...whatever it is, Nate hasn't left me alone since I got here. And I'm glad.
|Nate making sure the grill is nice and hot|
I haven't had a dog since the time I was a small boy. Roxie was half German Shepherd and half Rottweiler, so she definitely had a wild side to her. As she grew from a puppy to a full-sized dog, it became apparent to my parents that she wasn't the best fit for a household in the suburbs with small children. She nipped at my sister one day, who was only about 3 or 4 at the time, and that was Roxie's last day with us...my dad gave her to one of his friends and we never saw her again. I was heart-broken and made the boyish determination that I would never get attached to another pet again. We never got another dog, although my sister had some cats...none of whom I ever got along with.
|The Country Canine|
And so here's Nate...coming into my life 20 years later. Typically first priestly assignments don't last long...a couple of years on average...so I don't expect that Nate and I will be life-long friends. But for the time being, while I'm here and while he's here, we can be friends. Good friends. I can see now why people love their pets as much as they do...in their own way these creatures help to make life just a little bit sweeter for us. So yes...this Country Curate is grateful for the companionship of Nate, the Country Canine.