I am now, officially and undeniably (even to myself) an Ordinand. This week I have begin my training at Sarum College in Salisbury, a place which echoes from my past and which will be embedded in my future, for the next 3 years at least. Although it is largely a non-residential course it has started with a weeklong Summer School: a chance to build community and get used to the fact that I really am an Ordinand.
Part of the week’s programme has included a mini-silent retreat: from Midday Prayer to Evening Prayer we have been silent. Having been on a silent retreat before my BAP I was looking forward to this part of the week with eager anticipation. And as I did during my pre-BAP retreat I gave control of my fingers to God and let Him reveal to me what might be on His heart and to help me articulate what was on mine.
What you will read is the result of the writing. Normally I type away on an computer with a large screen but this time I used a phone, with interesting results: I could only see a limited amount of what I had typed and only saw the full picture when I read it on my iPad later. It isn’t polished but it is, with a few spelling corrections, what was the silence revealed to me as I sat in Salisbury Cathedral on the afternoon of 23rd August 2017.
Sitting in my own silence I want to cry, I do not know why. Is it the choirs of angels I hear sing within the cathedral, their voices rising in praise to the Heavens? Is it the realisation that the King of Kings has called me, has called me, to be ordained? Is my heart scarred by the pain of the journey to become an Ordinand? Or do the pains of the dark areas of my soul still exist, or are they simply memories of pain echoing from the past?
Are the tears I want to cry for the people I feel called to serve? The refugees fleeing from danger or poverty, from political, religious or sexual persecution? Do the tears lie waiting for the refugees willing to face mortal perils to reach safety or for those that exploit them as they flee? Are they for what they find and how they are treated, how they are hated, how they are not loved?
Are the tears that I want to cry for the hurting, for the forgotten, the overlooked, the ‘insignificants’ or the quiet ones who want to be loved, who need to be loved but who will not or cannot ask to be loved?
Are my tears for those in dark places, for those whom death is more attractive than life? Is it for the ones who want to climb Jacobs Ladder before their time has come? Or are they for the ones who can only see oblivion yet still want to claim it? Are they tears for those who are too numb to cry?
Or are these tears that won’t fall, that lie within my broken heart, tears for the person I was and am? Tears from the fears that my inadequacies will remain, that I will not be up to the task, that neither I or God will find a way around them? Are they tears because I fear I won’t let Him? Do they lie waiting to fall because I am wanting to be used by God to heal in order to be healed, to carry His light into someone else’s darkness in order to lighten my own? Is this really all about me?
Are the tears for the pain of the past so that I can cry with the pains others are feeling in the present and will feel in the future?
Are the tears I feel when I look upon the Cross tears because Christ’s sacrifice was needed or tears for His pain? Are they tears of gratitude that God who created and created would do such a thing for the world, for them, for us, for me? Are they tears that Christ loves me, has called me, has asked to travel with me to those that need Him? Are they tears for the fears of the future unknown, for the cost I might bear, for the cost my wife, my children might bear?
Are these tears for them or tears for me?
Are these tears for fears or tears of thanks?
Are these my tears or are they Christ’s?
Are these tears for all these things and for things known only by God?
I do not know and yet I do.