Sure, the bishop may have laid hands on your head, and you may have been surrounded by fellow presbyters who joined in the calling down of the Holy Spirit. You may even wear vestments on Sundays and pray the prayer of consecration, but are you really a priest? Sure you are, but like the newbie college football player with the unblemished helmet, there's value to scuffs and stickers on the back of your game gear. And for those of us who are a bit weary and whose muscles are sore (particularly from restraining ourselves from slapping stupid people), there's value to being a veteran. So, a few hallmarks of the seasoned priest:
1. You've used the following phrases during a conversation: "I'm sorry you feel that way," "How nice," "Bless your heart," and "Oh, that's interesting" to mean "F**k you," "Kiss my vested foot," "Please, get back on your meds," and "Why do you think I care about having this conversation for the 100th time?"
2. You've learned how not to be disappointed when the bishop fails to make yet another decision. Actually, you've simply learned to expect the response to a controversial issue or problem whose resolution will mean some are disappointed to be a committee. And you've found credible reasons for avoiding appointment to said committee, task force, or commission.
3. You've spilled a chalice of wine, consecrated or otherwise; broken pottery altar ware (perhaps on purpose, but you'll never tell); prepared a sermon on the wrong Gospel reading; tripped on chancel stairs; and/or completely screwed up the prayer of consecration. Double points for trying to sing the Ascension preface cold, only to public disaster.
4. You've gracefully fended off the unwanted advances - several of them - of the single males who are single because God loves women and God knows that our monthly periods and being paid 80 cents for every dollar a man makes really are enough challenges for any gender to deal with.
5. You've not so gracefully flirted with a single male in your congregation, thus causing him to flee from the church.
6. You've celebrated the Eucharist while your recent ex-boyfriend sits in the fifth pew back with his new girlfriend. And yes, while all the logic of, "Only a dud would do such a thing and you're better off without him" ran through my mind, did she really have to be a size 0 with perfect hair?
7. You've celebrated the Eucharist with your bra strap at your elbow. Or your panties creeping into a place no fabric should ever be.
8. You've had parishioners give you fashion advice. Unwanted fashion advice. And, for that matter, unhelpful. Like, "You'll never meet a man if you don't start wearing lipstick in the pulpit." Because all women clergy were called to preach the Gospel and find a husband in one fell swoop. I'm just saying...
9. You've make a sarcastic remark that bordered on inappropriate to someone who in no way appreciates sarcasm blended with God. And you've had to tuck tail and apologize, even if you're secretly thinking, "Really? THIS offended you?"
10. You've had days where you wondered why you'd knelt in front of the bishop anyway and there's no way I get paid enough for this when a parishioner tells you that your sermon made him think or your visit made her smile or that your presence reminded them of God.