I am over half-way through my Ordination Training and thoughts are starting to turn to curacy. When my diocese asked me to indicate which type of church I would and wouldn’t work with my reaction surprised me. The question saddened me. It was asking me where I belonged. At once I realised that I belonged everywhere and nowhere. Continue reading
Growing up as the youngest of three, opportunities to talk were few and far between. Each one had to be seized upon in case it would be a year before another would come again. Silence was my chance to speak.
Whatever the truth of my memory, the impact was that silence became an entity that I needed to fill; if I didn’t, and it continued, I would become increasingly uncomfortable. And so I filled them. I would jump into the silence with whatever opinion, facts or half-baked humour I could muster. It wasn’t always the best idea.
Filling the silence risks not hearing the very thing that needs to be heard. Increasingly I’ve realised that isn’t me.
Over the course of 3 long-read blog posts I am reviewing my first year as an Ordinand, each post focused on 1 of the 3 words that sum up my first year: tea, testing and transformation. This, the second post in the series, is all about testing, and no, they haven’t brought in doping tests for prospective priests in the Church of England.
One section of life where tests for performance enhancing drugs is common place is sport, and in particular cycling. Each July athletes race in the most famous cycling race in the world, the Tour de France. For 3 weeks cyclists mix sprinting for glory with climbs up some of the highest and toughest mountains that Europe have to offer. It is a tremendous feat of endurance just for a person to make it to the end on the Champs Élysées in Paris. This first year of training has similarly felt like a feat of endurance.
Tea. Testing. Transformational. Three words which capture the essence of my first year of Ordination Training. This post, the first of 3 blog posts reviewing the year, is all about the power of a cup of tea. Well, partly. It’s also about self-awareness and mental health.
A travelling tea set I found in the French town of Périgueux seemed just the thing for a trainee vicar who would often be away from home at a theological college. Contained within hinged cylindrical metal case, held closed by 2 leather straps, were a trinity of tea caddies and an infuser. It played up to the stereotype of “More Tea Vicar”, but did so on my terms: the blends of tea inside were drinkable. Just as I don’t like instant coffee but love coffee brewed from the bean, I love lots of varieties of tea but can’t stand the crowds’ favourite of English Breakfast Tea or ‘Builder’s Tea’. This, I know, is potentially problematic for someone who may be doing pastoral visits in England, but there is always the simplicity of a glass of water!
What was brought as a piece of amusement proved to teach me an important lessons that carried me through the year: the need for solitude and reflection, and to care for my mental health. Continue reading
Transforming something unknown into something known lies in the future. We can use our imagination and other people’s knowledge to paint a picture of what it might look like but it is only when we catch up with it, when the future becomes the present, that we begin to know the unknown. And so it has turned out with my Ordination Training.
As the training reached full-speed in early October (my studies in September were fairly light) the impact on my daily life quickly became clear: each day would be filled from rising to sleeping. My wife and I both needed to continue with our full-time jobs, my children still needed to be taken to school and clubs, household chores still needed to be done, and occasionally we even needed to eat. The only space for study was my ‘spare-time’, something I enjoyed using to spend time simply being with my family and friends. The study mean that this time would be limited, I would not be able to socialise quite as much as I did and this blog would not be added to quite as often as before. As such this post is as much an account of what it is like to train for ordination whilst working full-time as it is a reflection upon it. Continue reading
Starting my Ordination Training has once again made me examine my pattern of prayer. Over the years I have used lots of different patterns and sources in my attempt to take my focus off myself and onto God and others. I have had times when it has worked, when I have tapped into a rich seem of inspirational liturgy but such times have ebbed and flowed with an unhelpful inconsistency. This inconsistency has meant that the focusing and calming effect of prayer became vulnerable to be lost, drowned out or shut out by the distractions and pace of everyday life. Continue reading
For some, September and October marks the beginning of their ordination training. My training at Sarum College in Salisbury began a little earlier with a week-long Summer School in August. It was a welcomed opportunity to build a sense of community with the tutors and other students, and gave me a chance to pick up some tips for theological study that may be helpful; so here are my Top 10 Tips for Starting ordination training. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
The New Wine festival is taking place in Somerset this week and next. I can’t be there but reading tweets from those who are, and listening into some of the sessions being streamed live on the internet, has reminded me what a key moment my last trip to the festival turned out to be on my journey towards ordination training. Continue reading
My family have discovered Harry Potter this year, and not just the films. The books have grabbed my son’s interest like no other book has done before; a previously reluctant reader he now can’t stop reading and has encouraged me to read the books too. So as a family we came across the character Hermoine Granger using a Time Turner in Harry Potter and Prisoner of Azkaban in order to turn back time so that she could study more subjects. Going to services ordaining priests and deacons has been like having a time turner myself, only turning time forwards not backwards. Continue reading