There are times when life seems to pass by so quickly. That seems never more true than when you are on a placement. Uni term times whizz past, but they’re only ten weeks. Holidays whizz past, but they’re only a couple of weeks tops. Placements though are 8 months and when that last Sunday rolls round, as it did for me today, then 8 months seems to disappear in a flash.
It never seems long enough to get to know all the people you would wish to. It’s never long enough to get to know those you did as well as you should. It never seems long enough to cram in all that you would want to do with the safety net of a supervisor to hand.
I’ve said it before, but finishing up a placement is a strange time. Although the time does seem to flash past, 8 months is still a long time. It’s plenty of time to begin to get to know people’s stories; it’s plenty time to begin to build up emotional bonds with people; it’s plenty of time to really start to care for folks. So when it’s time to move on, it’s a wrench. But behind it all is the knowledge that it is only a part of the journey. Knowing that the move is inevitable means, for me anyway, that towards the end of the placement you cannot help but begin to look forward, to a place beyond the current placement. It means that when you do hit that end point you are already a little bit disconnected. It all adds to the strangeness of the whole process of formation for ministry.
What I do need to do now though is begin to think through what I’ve done, not just in this placement, but in all the others, and begin to work out what I need to focus on for probation. On this placement in particular I have felt that inexorable march towards ministry. It has been an opportunity to tick a handful more boxes on the ‘should have done’ list. It has been an opportunity to refine skills and to keep working on the ones which are still very rough round the edges. It has been an opportunity to make mistakes knowing that, as a student, some allowances are made and that there is someone there to pick up the pieces if things went drastically wrong (which they never did, I think). It has also been an opportunity to experiment and test out ways of doing things, again knowing that an experienced voice is on hand to help analyse and critique in a positive way.
Of course, all of this means that a lovely bunch of people have to put up with a lot of the ups and downs as well. The congregation have been nothing if not supportive and understanding, gracious with feedback and encouraging in their comments. Many commented today that they too couldn’t believe 8 months had passed so quickly. (Perhaps that’s a blessed relief from their perspective.)
So now there is the small matter of a dissertation to write over the summer (now watch the time really disappear) with probation starting on the 1st of September. Given the speed with which time seems to fly by at the moment, maybe it’s time to start ringing those warning bells for when I get let loose on my own.
Oh yes, and there’s the ‘Not a licensing’ Service of Recognition organised by the presbytery on the 24th of June, 7pm, Larbert East Church, where Andy and I will be given a slap on the back in acknowledgement of putting up with it all thus far.