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
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