Censer Priest

Being a priest is not all it is said to be. This thought amongst others of less magnitude addled the old man’s brain as he shuffled toward the Temple. He resented the designation, “idiot-priest,” accorded to him and others like him by rabbis, scribes and interpreters of the Law. Benign contempt? Hah! Consummate fools! Condescending . . . He thought for a moment, searching for the appropriate word, then smiled with satisfaction . . . Pig droppings! Then laughing cynically to himself added, diarrheic pig droppings!

He had been a priest of the Division of Abijah for his entire life and now wondered if he had wasted his time here on earth. For years, decades, had he stood quietly by and seen other men chosen. Older men when he was young. Younger men now that he was advanced in years. Never him. Random chance made choosing a Censer-priest fall to God himself. Didn’t it? Randomness as the very purpose, the absurd protocol for giving God his way! Isn’t that how we settle how God thinks? The whole fashion nauseated him.

To be chosen as Censer-priest only occurred once in one’s lifetime. The natural inference that to be chosen at all is tacitly equivalent to God’s setting his seal of approval on you, that God thought you of importance, that God recognized you as a man of character and worth. It lessened the taunt of the rabbis. To be chosen

while you are young implies that you are anointed, destined for greatness. Many priests live their entire lives never to be chosen.

There is no record that this particular priest had ever violated his trust in office. Those who cared enough to observe him thought him “righteous.” He, of course, knew differently. So did God. That is why, he concluded, he had never been chosen. Not to be chosen logically provoked the ominous question, “What is wrong with you that God has not chosen you?” Cruel question; richly undeserved. It wasn’t difficult for him to imagine why God had not chosen him. He, himself, knew well of his sins.

Elizabeth understood. How grateful I am for her. His wife believed in him, loved him, encouraged him when all others failed him. Like all priests he had married, seemingly, he thought for his entire life. How long have we been together? God help me! I think I have forgotten. He did not regret one moment of it. Elizabeth! The only person in the world who he knew loved him, despite the shame that they had no children. Almost everyone blamed her. Elizabeth is barren! Supposed friends said this in sometimes not so hushed tones. Again, he knew better. It was not she. It was he. God had rejected him. That is why his prayers for a child, a son, had gone unanswered, unheard. Idiot-


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