that'll do

so i'm on placement now and it's been going well for the first three days at least :) - on monday i even got to sit in the biggest combine harvester i've ever seen, such is the life of the rural vicar.

i'm feeling quite happy, there's a lot of commuting, at least 45 minutes each way (longer if, like on monday, you take a magical mystery tour around essex and cambridgshire before wending your way home :/). the pace is gentle so far, visiting and thinking through what the 'church' means to people in this area. obviously i can't share too much about the details of the placement, but i can tell you how i feel about what it means to me and my ministry, or possible future ministry.

for a start i'm really thankful for a break from college, for the space to be reminded what this is all about, that it may be fun even, as well as raw and rough at times. rural or urban, country or city, people are people are people are people and God is everywhere. perhaps i need to remember that at college, people are people are people are people, expect nothing more or less, from myself too. anyway, it's made me think about who you are to people when you're a 'vicar', and who you understand yourself to be too and whether those things interlink or not - for some they do and for some they don't. i'm quite sacramental about the whole shebang, so who i am will be 'priest' - and i suppose, now i think of it, it is quite important that it's that way round.

are you a 'priest' or is a 'priest' who you are? in other words is 'you' squeezed into the box 'priest' or is 'priest' the word designated for who 'you' are?

my 'thing' that is following me around at the moment (does anyone else get these things that follow them around?), is that old statement 'the glory of God is a human being fully alive' - Q said to me 'where's that in the bible?' when i came out with it the other day (after my having my little freak out), and i said 'it's written on every page'. so i'm trying to think through what that really means. what does it mean for people to be 'fully alive', what does it mean for me to be 'fully alive'. in the end, i reckon that God calls me to be 'me' and that, somehow, i don't know why or how it works, but, somehow, that gets called 'priest' (in the end, after some more training, then attempting not to implode, explode etc, getting ordained blah blah blah)

in the last 8 months, the only person who has made me really feel like it was absolutely okay to be 'me' in the role i was in, was a nurse at the hospice i was on placement in. i had been a little worried that i'd said the wrong thing to a woman whose husband had just died, i'd taken her a cup of tea as she tidied him up and sat with him some more. anyway, i won't go into detail, but i wasn't sure that i'd handled it well. on speaking to the nurse, she simply said 'you couldn't say anything wrong, you are a warm person and that is the thing that will be remembered' or words to that effect (and she was right it transpires after the meeting with the woman the next day, she said 'i remember you from yesterday, you helped me', awesome) - the nurse's idea was that just because of who i was, meant that whatever i said was 'held' by that, and this was so integral to her own 'ministry' as a nurse in that place, that she was so free. and she freed me.

of course we need to be formed and changed, but christ changes us, and we spend such a lot of time being changed by the wrong things, that the end result is a diminished us rather than a nourished one.

so in this placement, i am attempting not to be guarded and to simply be me, and that will be just fine.