I saw my name in print today in the Church Times stating simply my move from Assistant Curate, St Peter's Belper to Vicar of All Saints, Ealing, London.
I have had a really formative time through Curacy.
There is a sofa cushion that my sister-in-law had printed up for me for my ordination gift and it says, 'When I grow up, I want to be a vicar.'
This is what I feel curacy has achieved.
You might think that there is something negative about that, after all Jesus asks that we come to him like little children but I suspect in my case, I have earthed the idealism that I used to carry in the nitty, gritty reality of people and day-to-day ministry practicalities. I have a more realistic sense now of the Kingdom time-frame and how 'hurry-up God syndrome' has to be carefully navigated so that it doesn't come across as a 'hurry-up people syndrome!'
I have watched people impacted by God in ways I could never have known about or discerned and I have seen others walk away after I have prayed my heart out for them. Sometimes, there have been moments of God-coincidence that have left myself and others laughing, sometimes, the most God-directed plans have not come to pass.
I have learnt about 'safe spaces,' and spaces requiring armour.
I have seen church happen in America and India, in Israel and at the supermarket!
I have learnt that there are just so many different kinds of people on this planet and how my way of thinking just can't become the benchmark against which I assess them.
I have learnt to watch for the signs of fatigue and take a break. I have navigated the path that is balancing family and ministry and friends and solitude and sometimes I have done well and sometimes I have done appallingly.
The highlights have been 16 hands going up in a pub at an open meeting when our sponsoring body required 16 people to signify their interest for a ministry to go ahead.
A certain prayer three years ago in which someone saw an Oak tree and then my husband and I travel down the motorway for an interview three years later and I google - What is Ealing Common famous for? and the answer I receive is its Oak tree!
I have made some wonderful friends who have shared their God-narratives with me and invited me to pray with them, one who is now training at Bible college and another who is about to start. I have heard others say I will come to church when you're a vicar only to never actually see them turn up.
I have watched my children support their mum with the actions to Right Here, Right Now, even though it is all a little embarrassing and that's their mum at the front in funny clothes.
I have taken Mark Mouse to the children at a playgroup to tell them stories from the Bible and I have taken soil to a small square in a cemetery so that I can symbolise departure in the soaking rain, burying the ashes of someone's loved one.
I have covered a wooden coat hanger in the words of Colossians 3 and gifted it mid-preach at a Wedding ceremony and I have applied a small dab of Weleda handcream to the forehead of someone who has just passed away because my anointing oil was still at home - I had expected I would visit someone living.
I have sat on sofas in freshly hoovered rooms by families who were nervous to receive me but then laughed with them at their stories of mum's bets on the horses and cookery competitiveness over fruit cake.
I have lost sleep and found a moment here and there to catch up on sleep. I have about thirty unfinished books by the side of my bed.
I have prayed and cried and had to simply utilise am-dram stuff and re-enact, so that my best buddy in all the world, accountability partner and soul friend, my husband, could understand a glimmer of what I was going on about.
I have got used to finding strips of white plastic in the strangest of places but never when I need one for rushing out to morning prayer. I have read the same Daily Office hundreds of times over but God has shown me something different in it too many times to mention.
I have walked into rooms and not been what people were expecting and I have walked out of rooms swallowing hard because someone therein had been crying.
I have developed a preference for a particular variety of communion wine, for prayer with hands on a shoulder or an arm and for more waiting time in worship services.
I think I know how I feel about infant baptism, the 39 articles and same-sex marriage but I am aware now of a greater number of views on these things.
I have a different relationship with God to the one I had three years ago and I have learnt lessons from my experiences with the people he created.
As I leave Derbyshire for London and along with a lot of other stuff -
- I have a Masters degree yet to finish, a surplice with a few funeral car-door oil stains and only a Grove Booklet on how to be an incumbent.
... so any tips at all would be greatly appreciated! :-D