Yesterday I went over to Tewkesbury (not overwhelmed with floodwater, despite gloomy media predictions - though I do feel for those several poor souls still living in mobile homes in their own gardens) for lunch with such of the clergy women of the diocese who were free and wanted to attend. We have these gatherings twice a year and, though when they were first mooted some expressed disquiet that we should still "need" to meet together as women now that our ministry is mostly accepted without drama, I really value the opportunity to spend time with my sisters in ministry, to share experiences and to pool our resources in the face of any problems.
There were road-works, which I hadn't planned for, so I arrived even later than usual - and as I walked into the room at the beautiful Abbey House several women were gathered in groups, chatting over the bring and share lunch. I'd hardly put my coat down when one came over, and presented me with a card and some lovely daffodils - the first I've even seen this year.
"Congratulations on your new post!" she said
and it was like that all the way...Friend after friend offered hugs, happy messages, enough affirmation to keep even an ENFP purring for a good long while.
Later we got into groups to talk about our particular pressures, and I realised that actually for me, one hardship is the absence of opportunity to share joys in ministry.Specifically, it is hard for me to enthuse too much about the future in my new parishes - as I know that there is sadness on both sides as I prepare to leave the people here who have taught me so much through my curacy...It was a real gift to be able to bounce and rejoice with women who understand, because they've been there, the curious mixture of delight and awe that goes with the prospect of responsibility for a whole parish of my very own.
More generally, you have to be pretty geeky to get excited about some of the bits of ministry that send me home wanting to sing of an evening - and my family, though tolerant, can quite clearly have too much of a good thing. Bad days, paradoxically, are fine...Then they will get indignant on my behalf, offer me a hug, pour me a drink ...they don't need to know the details in order for me to feel the better for their comfort. But good days, days when there's something that feels just wonderful - those can be hard to share.
So, today I'm consciously grateful for those people with whom I can and do share pretty much everything...and for those of you whose periodic comments make me feel that there are readers out there who are interested in the ongoing story of what Kathryn did next.
ETA Eeeek...as so often happens in sermons it seems that what I thought I was writing and what people read were rather different...I truly wasn't appealing for reassurance that you are still there, though it's lovely that you are. I was just noticing that having people with whom I can share good times as much as problems is Very Important for me. Thanks, friends