Each summer those beginning or continuing their ordination training at Sarum College gather for a week of fellowship, exploration and reflection. This year’s ‘Summer School’ focused on the use of art to help us ‘see salvation’: in the stones that have been calved and placed to gather amongst; in the sculptures formed by hands and machines to walk around; and in the paint applied to paper, canvas and plaster to gaze upon. Although much of the art looked at during the week was formed with a clear religious intentionality behind it, an expression of faith and worship by an artist, not all of it did. Indeed it was one of these latter pieces that provoked the greatest reaction and insight into ‘seeing salvation’. The piece was Zak Ové’s “Black and Blue: The Invisible Man and the Masque of Blackness”, seen during a visit to the New Art Centre at Roche Court, near Salisbury. Continue reading
I have recently been diagnosed with Imposter Syndrome, with two years of my Ordination Training completed and one more year to go. I hadn’t expected it but, now that I think about it, I should have seen it coming. Continue reading
Nervous excitement woke me up early. I put on my glad-rags and left for the cathedral before my neighbours had begun to emerge into the daylight. I didn’t want to be late.
I descended the Mendip Hills into Wells over an hour before the service began. The Cathedral greeted me as I emerged from my car, and the Bishop of Taunton waved as she walked past. As long as I kept both in sight I was going to make it in time. Continue reading
The signs are coming: “World’s Best Dad” printed on multiple t-shirts hanging on a clothes rails; scores of cards with “Number 1 Dad” on; “Perfect gift for Father’s Day” on everything from albums of 1980s soft-rock to packets of beef for the barbecue, essentially anything the real industry deems ‘manly’. Their prevalence making the statements meaningless. Their appeal to sentimentality for commercial gain that turns fatherhood into an apparent competition.
I’m not a fan. Continue reading
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.
Earlier in 2018 a group working to make church and faith accessible to all, called Disability and Jesus, produced a Daily Office – a set of prayers for different times of the day. Their website “An Ordinary Office” includes Morning, Midday and Evening Prayer in text, Makaton, audio and video formats.
During a visit to the island of Iona, off the west coast of Scotland, I recorded the Morning and Evening Prayer liturgies. They were filmed at various locations on the island including Iona Abbey, Columba’s Bay (where St Columba is said to have landed from Ireland and brought Christianity to the area) and the White Strand of the Monks where visiting Vikings killed the Abbey’s Monks that had come out to welcome then).
I hope you enjoy them and find them helpful (there are subtitles available if required).
Morning prayer from Iona
Evening Prayer from Iona
An ambient tour of Iona
Over 9 minutes of peaceful landscapes filmed for the prayer videos.
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