Moving swiftly on…

IMG_3064I’ve walked 31 unnecessary miles in January. And the point is not the distance or pace, the point is the time. Because for around 20 minutes, for most days, I’ve had space to think. I’ve generally walked the same route, and because I have come to know it rather intimately (I watch where I put my feet) I have noticed the things I wouldn’t have done otherwise. I’ve even got on nodding terms with the tractor driver – where we first met we raised hands with polite smiles. Now we nod, straight-faced. I have re-learned the different moods of cows, trees and ditches, of van drivers at different times of day.

I’ve said goodbye to my old parish, and am spending time in the Rectory, painting like a lunatic (Mineral Mist today, Wild Woods yesterday, Primrose tomorrow, and never mind the gloss work). I have valued my thinking time, as leaving one place has enabled me to come to terms with a place left longer ago, to think through some of the less good things as well as the joys, to connect some of my pet hang ups with those expressed by others, and to think how that affects the future. Bluntly, if I felt uncomfortable sometimes with my children in church, and others dread the thought of Sunday morning battles with their beloved offspring, what things can I do to help parents feel differently in the future? Just one thing to think about.

And already in my new parish, the conversations begin – the first questions…what do I think about…..what is my policy on ….; and the the first complaint….when am I going to get that hedge cut (it’s a fair point, it’s got pointy bits, and the pavement is narrow.)

That daily familiar walk has been a bit like getting to know a new place. It takes time to know and notice what changes daily, what changes more slowly, what is unexpected, what is (again bluntly) bleeding obvious. Janathon has been good training for my observational skills, which I am going to need more than ever in the coming months. I can do the basics of being a parish priest. But watching, noticing, responding prayerfully with care and love, that takes time. Marchathon, anyone?

6 responses to “Moving swiftly on…

  1. Sounds as if your #Janathons have been very useful, albeit I haven’t read them all.

    Moving and adapting to a new ministry, in a new home and place and new people is challenging, but I suspect rewarding as you sense their anticipations, expectations and needs from God, the Church and you personally over the next few months.

    I’m glad that you’ve had some space and time to do the business in the new place, before you’re there officially. Time to listen and to learn, and time for reflective prayer as you move towards Installation and getting on with the Job (so to speak).

    I’m slowly feeling my way in the new parish. This morning I was invited by the Vicar’s husband (of all people) to help out with a group of young people who’ve been excluded from mainstream education and who attend a local centre for youngsters in their position. They use the Church hall for table tennis and social stuff – it’s about seeking to provide people with life experience to relate to them without patronizing and sharing perhaps some of our experience, in the hope of turning them around. I hesitated before saying, yes. So tomorrow I meet them for the first time.

    God doesn’t seem to waste any time in this place – I’m already organised into stuff on rota’s and it’s really beginning to fit in so many ways. Vocations day next month and an interview with the diocesan vocations adviser is on the cards – we’ll see where it goes. But my call to some form of Evangelism seems to be being indirectly mentored by others who perhaps see something in my that I can’t quite yet see for myself.

    Prayers for you and the family at an exciting, daunting, joyful and challenging step in your ministry 🙂

  2. There’s something policemen do (probably did, should still do) that is captured by Commander Vimes in the Terry Pratchet Discworld series, and that’s feeling the sense of a place through the souls of his boots. There are other ways of expressing it, and it is different to ‘wearing someone elses moccasins, because it’s more about community, the pace and rhythm of a place.

    My thought is that it’s going to be important in parish life, and I know that I’m going to a parish riddled with muddy footpaths, and some car-parks with ‘strange goings on’ at night. So I think you’re right to be contemplating a Marchathon, and probably an Aprilathon, Mayathon etc too… as much as you can really.

    But I guess the issue is how to make it comfortably achievable, not just with the busyness of parish life as the new Rector, but also physically. Prayers for that, and the paintwork 😉

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