From the window of my room, I will see the sun rise. It is not up yet,
although the sky is light and there is a band of palest orange across
the horizon over there, where the sun will be. The seminary where I am staying is on a hill, and I am on the second floor. We are at a little distance from the town. My view of the sunrise will be unimpeded. I am watching the clock; I don't want to miss it.
Other people have watched the sun rise from this room. Closed doors line the long corridor, and they have all had many occupants. They came as boys: so young, each with an suitcase full of ideals and awe. They were formed here.
Leave aside, for a moment, what they became. Your own convictions about the Roman Catholic priesthood. That there are no women in it, that maybe obligatory celibacy needs to go. Leave these things aside for a moment, and feel instead the presence of those young spirits in this place. Feel their hope. Feel their longing to play, their chafing at the rules,their gradual bending to them. Feel their doubts about themselves, those things of which they tell no one. What kind of priest will I be? Will I be good enough? I am afraid I won't be good enough. Oh, make me good enough.
This building is spacious, large enough for a hundred seminarians, surely. Maybe more. But priests are no longer trained here. Most of the rooms are empty. Only a handful of serious young men are here today. They are on a silent retreat, the priest who welcomes us says. They're not being unfriendly, but they will not talk to you. The prayers and whispers you hear are from the spirits of those who went before. Formed here, gone now. Some of them are no longer priests. Some of them are dead. Some of them teach. Some of them are bishops. They are the ones you hear, their young selves still here, whispering in the corridors.
I look out the window. The sun is already over the horizon. I missed its rise.