Sunday, 9 June 2019

Continuing the Great Adventure to Holy Orders - Two years into training

The actors training alongside me at drama school used to say that their experience of their time there was akin to being broken into small pieces then reassembled bit by bit. I've got to say, my experience of theological college has been very similar.

In my BAP paperwork, I said my hope was that “my formation will be an anvil to God’s blacksmith”, but it’s more like my formation is the workshop for God’s mechanic. I’m up on the axle stand, and I am being sort of taken apart in an act that is actually creative rather than destructive. Some parts are taken out of the whole and worked on separately, or replaced entirely. Some parts are being serviced, renewed and polished, revealing the potential that was already there. Enhancements are being added, new buttons put into the dashboard to access new features, but the essence of the car is not changed. Same colour, same design, same history, same owner, but renewed purpose and updated manual.

Hopefully, this is a similar process to the one described in Colossians 3, that we have "stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator". Only time will tell.

I'm coming to the end of my second year as an ordinand, and I have one more academic year to go. I have started conversations with London diocese about curacy, but I have yet to be told if I will be released or not. I have another jam-packed summer ahead of me, including 4 weeks in a parish, and hopefully some placements with military chaplains, but also I've scheduled some actual 'holiday' time, which is better than last year, as well as personal spiritual retreat. Next year, I will write a dissertation, and finish my BA degree, as well as prepare to move and start curacy.

It is so weird to still be here, in Durham, at Cranmer Hall. Not that I mean I'm surprised I haven't been kicked out, but it's just unusual for me to be in the same place with the same people for so long. And even though the community make-up has changed, and it'll change again come October, life is all still basically the same, and that is very unfamiliar territory for me. I might be talking about curacy, but it's still a whole year away; the future has never been so far. Suddenly I'm the one radically changing, not my circumstances. Since coming to Durham, I have gotten two tattoos and a motorcycle licence, and that's just scratching the surface. 

I have delved into the Bible in a way completely unknown to me; I have settled into my relationship with God in a manner unfathomable before; I have realised a passion for writing prayers and preaching which has astonished me; I have fought against more biphobia than I have ever experienced in my life; and I have truly picked up the mantle of my future and set it on my shoulders.

But I'm still up on the axle stand, I still feel like I'm in pieces; my capacity to love is growing, my pastoral ability is being enhanced, my vocabulary has been almost replaced it's so different, my commitment to being a Church of England Anglican has been renewed, my potential as a leader has been revealed, and new features include obscure biblical references and unlikely friendships have been added. But at the moment I do not feel like a cohesive whole, and parts of my life and my self sit around me, only strung together by the barest of threads.

The same as this time last year, my mental health has not be so good, making this lack of cohesion harder to bear, but I've made it to the end of term, and now I have a series of interesting projects and trips over the summer to recharge me to get through the last three terms of my degree. And God is constant through it all.

I've still got a year to go, and details of my future to confirm, so I have hope and faith that I will be made ready in time, and I'll set down off the stand ready to hit the throttle into curacy, to warm up the tyres and get to grips with the upgrades, so that I can journey well in the rest of my life in ministry. I am in pieces but not in despair, and I am being held by the Spirit, the college, my friends and my family.

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Even MORE that I've been up to (Video: a month in Johannesburg)

This is the final instalment of posts about my series of adventures over the summer. The first was a vlog of my pilgrimage to the Holy Land, the second was a video about my time as a volunteer for a month in Taizé - and now, here's my vlog of my four week placement in South Africa.

In real time, it's Reading Week of my first term in second year as an ordinand. I've settled back in and everything seems to be going quite well.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

What ELSE have I been up to? (Video: a month in Taizé)

And so continues the series of posts about my adventures over the summer between my first and second years as an ordinand. 

The first was about my trip to the Holy Land, and now comes a slightly different style of video about my time as a 'permanent' volunteer in Taizé for five weeks.

The third and final instalment will be a vlog of my month in Johannesburg on placement with the cathedral. 

In real time (Oct 2018), I am now in induction week at the start of my second year. I landed in the UK Tuesday morning and was at college Wednesday afternoon, so no let up! 

But it's all worth it. I go wherever God calls me to be, even if that does make my schedule a bit hectic!