Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart,
and try to love the questions themselves
as if they were locked rooms
or books written in a very foreign language.
Do not search for the answers, which could not be given to you now,
because you would not be able to live them.
And the point is to live everything.
Live the questions now.
Perhaps then, someday far in the future,
you will gradually,
without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.
I had found as much peace with being rejected for ordination training as was possible. Questions remained over what had happened before, during and after my rejection but the answers remained stubbornly on the horizon. They hung in front of me like an elusive carrot on a stick and for all my efforts to reach them they remained out of reach.
Was the Bishop’s Advisory Panel (BAP) and the preceding period a stand alone lesson to teach and transform me into the person God wanted me to be for the next stage of our journey together? Or was it part a series of lessons, and if it was what was the next one? Was it to attend a second BAP ? Did I even want to go to another? Was it to be ordained? Do I even want to go to a second BAP ? Linked yet separate questions with fathomable way of being answered.
Knock-backs and rejections had robbed me of confidence in myself and my abilities. My doubts and confusion clouded my judgement so it was no wonder that trying to discern what God was trying to teach me in this period did not bring the clarity I needed.
Pursuing answers had become fruitless. To find the answers I had to stop searching for them. Continue reading
Like a phoenix from the ashes, I will rise.
Loathing, disdain and vitriol threaded their way through the report, it was not pleasant reading.
I had been handed the report by the BAP Advisers by my DDO and read it in silence. Its tone took me aback. Never before had I read such a bitter report. It was anything but constructive, instead it seemed intent on destroying me, my spirit and my hopes. Continue reading
Stuck in a cul-de-sac with no reverse gear
I could tell by her tone of voice that it wasn’t good news.
The call from my DDO came earlier than expected. The Advisers at my BAP had not recommended me for ordination training. I felt numb.
I couldn’t find many words to keep the conversation going for long. There didn’t seem much point either when I was told that we wouldn’t find out why for almost a week.
The future that I had been preparing for had fell apart in an instant. I had been preparing for rejection too but experiencing it is very different. My emotions took the expected hit. It felt like a light had gone out, like a door slammed in my face. I knew that I would find it tough to hear such news, that I would be in a state of grief, but I hadn’t planned for my mind to be hit hard as well. Continue reading
A sanctuary for strange days
It is done. My Bishops’ Advisory Panel is over. It was quite an experience, quite a week. There are many people’s experience of a BAP that can be read, many practically focused, some even dealing with the pain of not being recommended. This is my account of my experience; an account of the emotions, fears and joys that someone has and can go through and that needs more words than other types of accounts of going to a BAP.
So if you’re willing and ready, read on! Continue reading
That was the time but the time is now: ‘that’ was singing in Mr Swallow’s choir in Ely Cathedral, ‘now’ it’s Ely for the BAP – 2 visits, 1 journey.
The time has come. The culmination of 17 months exploring ordination has come to this. This week I attend a Bishops’ Advisory Panel.
It is also 1 year to the day that I published my first blog post, my attempt at moving out of my comfort zone and documenting the highs and lows of the discernment process.
It all began, consciously at least, when I sensed God suggest I take a look at it so I didn’t wonder ‘what if?’ later in life. I accepted His invitation and pushed at the door. Continue reading
“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” John 14:2
I’m worn out. I haven’t even got to the Bishops’ Advisory and I’m worn out.
I knew this was coming. It wasn’t a word from God, a message from the Holy Spirit. It was far more mundane than that. It was a mixture of circumstances and the compression of 6 months BAP preparation into 6 weeks.
After putting our house in market last week, in an equal act of faith and practicality, we had been overwhelmed by the response. We had put our house on the market previously and had 1 offer in 10 months. This time, admittedly with a different set of economic conditions, we had 4 offers in 4 days. The house was sold, subject to contract, in under a week.
Now if God isn’t part of our house sale I will eat my hat, and believe me when I say that I don’t like eating hats. Continue reading
Will my application be accepted?
The date is getting closer. So much to do, such little time. Or is there?
As I continue my preparations for attending a Bishops’ Advisory Panel (BAP) there I the list of things I want and need to do beforehand at times feels impossible to achieve. Yet I also feel a the sense of peace and excitement I feel as I pass through each day is palpable.
There isn’t just the BAP to prepare for, there is life away from it which continues regardless and needs time and attention. I have my day-job, my role as a school governor, a house to sell and of course my children and wife to attend to and spend time with. Such things keep me grounded and from becoming tunnel visioned and obsessed by all things ordination.
There is a reason for all this activity
The decision had been made and put into action. All that remained to cement the position and secure the place at a Bishops’ Advisory Panel in mid-May was a report on me by my sponsoring Diocese and DDO.
I am always intrigued by other people’s views about me. Even if they can be uncomfortable to hear they can be more accurate than my own. Seeing myself from other people’s perspectives helps me understand how I am understood, and how to change if I am not. This report on me by my DDO would be a key bit of information the advisors on the panel would use in getting to know me and in working out what questions they wanted to ask.
Unlike my references for the BAP, I was given a chance to read the report. Thankfully I recognised the person written about, but reading it was like an out-of-body experience.
“Curiously enough, the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias as it fell was Oh no, not again. Many people have speculated that if we knew exactly why the bowl of petunias had thought that we would know a lot more about the nature of the Universe than we do now.”, Douglas Adams
There I was: sitting down, contemplating the future. Six months in which to prepare for a Bishops’ Advisory Panel lay before me. Plenty of time to sit back, read a bit, debate a bit and contemplate all that God has to offer. No rush, no pressure.
In the midst of this peacefulness my computer and phone sang out in unison. I had mail.
It was the DDO. She had a surprise. I was being invited to attend a BAP in mid-May.
I didn’t expect that.
The tranquility shattered and, not for the first time on this journey, everything that I had envisioned doing fell apart.
My exploration of ordination feels like it has entered a new phase.
The first was private and tentative, like a child unsure if the venture is safe. I spoke informally with my vicar, I spoke with friends ordained and not. I had questions, I had doubts: what did I possibly have to offer of worth to the church? Whilst I couldn’t see it myself I knew that God would have good reason in asking me to take a look at it. Continue reading