The end is near.
No really, it is. It’s tomorrow. Of Benedict’s papacy, at least.
Now, there will be many, many better written reflections on this fact written by far more talented and knowledgeable writers than I, so I won’t try to compete with them. Go read them. Hear what they are saying about his writing, his teaching, his general correctness in just about everything he did as pope. I have, and will continue to do so over the next few weeks as we ponder what his tenure means to our church.
This is not one of those pieces.
This is simply a fangirl letter.
I love Benedict XVI. From the moment he first stepped out onto the balcony eight years ago, as I sat there in my living room, six months pregnant with my first child, the sadness I felt at the loss of John Paul II began to lift as if a heavy rain cloud had suddenly blown away and the clear blue sky of a September morning was visible again. Here was a man, obviously shy (like myself), avuncular, with intelligent eyes and a love for the Church that was easy to see. He was a friend of my friend and I was happy to see him stepping into his role. Knowing that he was to be our new leader calmed me and made the loss of my beloved JPII easier.
Since that day, I have never stopped loving him. B16, or Papa Ben as I often think of him, guided us well, and if his words offended some they encouraged many as well. He spoke the truth always, even if that truth was not always understood by the world. While he was shy, he did the best he could with the personality God had given him, often coming up short in the eyes of the media who was never looking to simply report but were, it seemed, always looking to compare him to his lauded predecessor and find him lacking. He wasn’t lacking. He just wasn’t John Paul, and that was his biggest flaw according to those who never cared to know him.
And so, it is with a new sadness of heart that I say good bye to my beloved German Shepherd. It will be years before we fully appreciate all he did for us and we may never understand his decision to seek out a life removed from the world. I hope and pray that he is able to reach a deeper communion with God in taking this step, even if it means we have to give him up.
Good bye, Papa Ben. This fangirl will miss you.