Dec 042009

Sometimes I wonder if this whole process of training and placements and calling is worth it. Don’t get me wrong. I am in no doubt about my call, or my faith, but sometimes it seems that life would be so much simpler (and just as interesting, before anyone suggests otherwise) if you could just get on with life, working, having an income, a social life or even just a more ‘settled’ home life.

And “worth it” implies some kind of future reward, or better times. I’m not so naive to think that life will suddenly become wonderful when I end up in my own parish. That, judging from what I hear, is just the beginning of a whole new set of ‘challenges’.

I guess what I’m saying is that in the intensity of it all (and it is intense), it’s easy to overlook other things, other people. Little things cause a lot of friction, because they get into the apparently smooth-running machine which is the routine of study and preparation. And yet, it should, in a sense, be the other way round. ‘Life’ was there before studies and so study is the intruder, the grit in the life machine.

Sometimes it’s necessary to stop for a bit of maintenance and to gain some perspective. It’s a shame that it’s the ‘grit’ that forces a halt. Much better to have planned maintenance.

Sometimes I do wonder if it’s ‘worth it’. I need to recognise that that is not the advance warning signal, but the emergency stop on the machine.

Time for a maintenance schedule to be put in place.

Sep 062009

It’s nice to be back home after my stint in Brussels. I have a week or so before the business of university kicks in and my next placement doesn’t start until the middle of October. In the meantime though I have to visit four churches will be potential probationary churches. The first was today.

It’s a church I know fairly well, as much by reputation as well as having been several times. It’s got a great age profile, is one of the friendliest I’ve ever been in, is very active in the community (and beyond), has a passionate and committed ministry team and appeals to my geek side in so many ways. But is it the place where I could spend 15 months of my training?

There is, as I’ve said, much to commend it and I’m not jumping the gun and ruling anywhere out until I have been round them all, but I have to say, at the moment, there isn’t that sense of ‘tug’ towards the place. Maybe I need to experience all of them before I’ll know for definite, but at the moment it’s still a maybe.

As I’ve gone through this whole selection and training process, one of the biggest changes in me is how I listen to and hear God. I wouldn’t say I ever get clear and unambiguous instructions, but I’m getting a much better sense of when something is the right path and when it’s not. One of the ‘warnings’ we were given at conference was not to go with what our gut reaction said was the good choice. Yes, sometimes our positive gut reaction is because it’s what makes us feel good. But sometimes it’s deeper than that. Sometimes it’s being able to touch our deepest spiritual senses and know that God is with us, supporting and guiding.

Aug 152009

I have about a week and a half left of my summer placement and it’s paperwork time. I’ve been thinking over some of the ‘big’ things from the placement as well as the individual tasks and activities. My mind was working overtime last night and I couldn’t really settle to sleep. The family are back home (or continuing their holiday) after their extended stay here in Brussels and I was on my own again. I was thinking that I’d now like to be back home as well. But I don’t mean that in any negative sense; I’m not homesick and pining for my own house; nor am I desperate to finish here and be away. As I was thinking this over last night, I realised it’s been a factor in all my placements so far. Continue reading »