Words of change…?

For a few months now, it is almost like there has been nothing to write…actually that has been far from true. There has been so much to write about, to comment on, to realise, to think through, and I have felt verbally paralysed, being unable to find the right words, find any words to express what has been going on and how I am processing it.

dsc_0160

Following my return from Japan, I began to sense a difference, a change, in how I was encountering and developing within ministry and training in my curacy parish. In reality this had begun some time prior to going to Japan, so was not simply brought on by time away. It can be strange how time away sharpens the senses though. The change was, in part, about me, but it was also something I was beginning to sense in prayer. As I delved deeper into these feelings with others, it became clear that my training needs had changed somewhat, and could no longer be met in my current curacy. Over the course of an incredibly painful few weeks, it became apparent that I was to be pushed further out of my comfort zone, and that God was leading me to another opportunity.

Subsequently, it was announced in my diocese a few weeks ago that I am to transfer my curacy from the Parish of Stocking Farm and Beaumont Leys to the Holy Spirit Parish with the two churches of St Andrew and St Nicholas in Leicester city centre. In many ways this is a hugely exciting opportunity, and one that I never envisaged having. I have also been coming to terms with negative feelings around this completely unexpected part of the process though, and perhaps this is where the struggle for words comes.

dsc_0208

This change is not about my failure, and yet there is something about it that feels like a failure. People often refer to this situation as a curacy ‘breaking down’, and there is a lot of pain and stigma associated with that. I have come to realise how much I value the expectations and sentiments of others, particularly as some around me have expressed disappointment and sadness about my departure. One of the church wardens, as she delivered the announcement, said that her ‘heart was breaking’. I noticed a sense of guilt welling up inside; they have warmly welcomed me and I have been greatly blessed by them. Yet, I have failed them because I am not keeping my word – my parish expected me to be with them for three years; instead, I will leave them after a little over 18 months. How often do we make promises, in good faith, that we cannot keep? What words do we use to reassure people, to let them hear that which will offer comfort, without the foresight to truly know that we will be able to keep our word?

dsc_0236

I am a huge fan of the film, The Invention of Lying which explores the power of words. People are unable to say something which is not true, until one individual finds himself doing just that by “saying something…that wasn’t” and baffling his friends when he tries to explain what happened. What would you not have said today if bound by this criteria, if you were unable to offer comfort or care by suggesting something that you believed, but could not be certain of? I was always encouraged not to lie as a child, and I have an aversion to those who lie to me. What about mistruths, though, that we convince ourselves are a kindness rather than an actual lie – how many of those get through our in-built lie detectors completely unnoticed?

dsc_0082

So here I am, eagerly anticipating a new path, a different opportunity, whilst struggling with the guilt of failing those I leave behind…a guilt which may well not be mine to hold. I am beginning to wonder whether this guilt points to something of note: God can work powerfully through each of us when we allow that, perhaps it is our humanity which focuses on the emotion of such an encounter, and less on the encounter itself and what God may have been revealing within that. If you were to savour one sentence or phrase from a memorable encounter, what would it be? What is it about those words that draw you? Do they speak truth, do they comfort, or did they reveal something of the divine in a life-changing way?

Shifting the Focus

DSC_0100 copy

Sometimes we think we know exactly what we are looking at, and where we are heading. A simple distraction can lead all of that to change!

DSC_0100

Things can seem slightly less clear or blurry round the edges!

DSC_01002

This can lead to greater disorientation….

DSC_01001

Returning to a place of harmony, at least, can involve shifting your focus or looking at things a little differently.

DSC_0103

It might mean focusing more closely on aspects which identify who we are, or where we are.

DSC_0105

Perhaps trying to see these things in a new light will be helpful.

DSC_0108

Or shaking off our own preconceived ideas in order to really see.

DSC_0114

The more intently we refocus, the more likely we are to see beyond those preconceptions and misconceptions, and discover something quite different from our initial assumptions.

DSC_0053-Edit-4

That is when we will really have shifted our focus to a lens which enables us to see well beyond what we think is possible….How can you become more God focused?

Otherness

#436 We had the very great pleasure of having @RevRachelMann speak to us this week. She is a truly #inspiring #speaker and #poet who has really made me think about how #powerful well-crafted words are…as well as the importance of telling our stories to effect #change. She encouraged us to think about #otherness and #congruence in our future churches, as well as society more widely, and the difficulties with being ‘other’. How do we treat those who are ‘other’? How do those of us who are ‘other’ deal with our own otherness? 

World photo day


#388 #day6 and a very welcome #dayoff which allows an opportunity to mark #worldphotoday! This photo was taken a few days ago to capture the hard work of harvesting into sunset and beyond. The beautiful sky and the dust coming off the combine harvester made this a scene that I wanted to capture as I passed in the car. Looking at it again makes me think about this scene pre #industrialrevolution minus the pylons and with people not machines. Technological advancements have made life easier for many, but do we ignore the sometimes high cost of change for an easier life?

Right to vote


#331 With each opportunity that I have to #vote, I remember #bravewomen who went before me, enabling me today do something that I take for granted today. Women had to fight to have their right to vote as not so long ago in our history it was thought that men knew best. Only the other day I learned that in America one in three imprisoned black men have had their right to vote permanently taken from them. I am astounded that this happens in our world today…even before considering the percentages who are wrongly imprisoned! Allowing some voices to represent the masses is wrong, but some people choose not to vote over and over again because “what difference will it make?” I am sure being given a vote would make a huge difference to all those it has been taken from, not just because they get to have their say, but because things will #change when many people speak out – even if the change is to stay the same….

The Universe

“In the ocean of the universe, a single stone and ripple changes it forever.”

Wm. Paul Young, Eve.

Changes

#3 Change is both positive and negative. When certain elements are unknown, or out of our control, change can be difficult. The change of moving from our home, and renting our home requires both a detachment from material possessions, and trust. I didn’t realise how attached I was to our home until I saw this sign…