I come from a world where, in an instance where I made a flawed decision, chose a wrong path, or just plain messed up, that 'feedback' was delivered by the Fedex Instant Service, packaged in the 'Between the Eyes' range of postal boxes.
This doesn't happen at all often in priesthood (read 'curacy', perhaps) - and it is easy to misconstrue that as doing very well on all fronts. This cloud of blissful unknowing is rather alluring, and in the end, it is easy to become convinced of the view that we just don't get things wrong. We all know, of course, that that just isn't true - as I discovered today when I had my windscreen cleaned for me.
Without going into the details of my trangression, I find myself (and not for the first time) wondering how to find the find the right boundaries when delivering the spoken word, my 'message', in a world where the edges are all but invisible (and electrified to 20,000 volts). In other words, it is almost impossible to sense the danger ahead, until it is a matter for hindsight. For me, my thing is 'personal style', so I am in sporadic danger of becoming the Marmite Minister - love him or hate him. You who read my blog will know my style, but it is easy to forget that others do not.
I have choices in the light of my failure to deliver something appropriately (for some). I want to be me, because in the end, 'me' is all I have. I want to resist the urge to become benign and flacid in what I say and how I say it, but neither do I want 'me' to become a blanket that smothers and obscurs things for those who are unfamiliar with this curate or the core message he brings. I want to discern the 'danger' that is in the 'cloud of unknowing' so that I don't find myself sitting here again feeling like I currently do, and ever mindful that I chuffed off at least one significant member of the community, and it can't be very nice for them either. Priests want to please, we want to serve properly, do the very best we can in all circumstances - and most importantly, be a proper conduit for the grace and love of God - that is largely what we are paid to do. When it goes wrong, it is among the hardest things for us to cope with - because it represents a failure at so many levels (in my honest and humble opinion).