not just a very very nice man

yesterday I met bishop stephen and he was a very nice man, he was late, which obviously meant that I was put at my ease, ha ha, whilst he had had 'one of those days', having missed his train etc etc.

but as soon as we sat down, with our cups of tea, it became clear that he was the type of person who just makes you feel like you've known him for ages. I would have liked to meet his wife, who I hear is a potter, but both her and stephen's secretary were not at home, so it was just me and him, sitting having a chat in his study - many books and some fab icons.

in fact, though I hadn't realised it at the time, he was exactly what I needed. What do I mean by that? well, I guess I needed someone with his kind of authority, ordained as my bishop, with a particular duty of care for me (a duty of care which he seemed perfectly comfortable with), to bless me, affirm me and look out for me a little in the process I've been going through and which finds a transition point next month when I go to the BAP (bishop's advisory panel) and they either say 'yes' or 'yes' (because, so the bish says, they don't say 'no', they just say 'yes' to ordained ministry or 'yes' to a different vocation for you)

what I discovered is that it actually had power for him to meet with me, talk with me, listen to my story, affirm me, bless me, ask a question or two and pray for me. it had power because those things have power in themselves, but it also had power because he'd been given that authority from above and from below - from the Lord and from me - both together were quite a powerful combination. and not only that, but he was so comfortable in that authority, he didn't shy away from it and it wasn't oppressive. he was careful with his authority, and with my vulnerability, but it was clear that it was who he was.

I came away from my meeting feeling utterly joyful, sure that God loved me, and that he'd used this man, in his particular calling, to bless my heart.

he also thought that my own theological journey was very interesting and that my sacramental understanding of, well, most things, was significant for my future direction. I think that he suspects I will at some point just own myself as an anglo-catholic. perhaps there's space in this mixed up denomination of ours for another label? anglo-catholic evangelical? maybe I should think about changing my domain name? joking apart I do find myself more and more frustrated with the evangelical preoccupations that make me sometimes feel like I'm banging my head against a brick wall. added to that is the likelihood that most evangelical parishes won't want a female curate, but the other constituencies welcome them. it really is food for thought.

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