Mother Laura came up with a Friday Five on a hugely pertinent subject, so despite being out and about till well into the small hours this morning, I'm joining in - late as ever...
1. If you could travel to any historical time period, which would it be, and why?
When I was a child, I spent a lot of time imagining myself in Tudor England...probably because I liked the big jewelery and the idea of a powerful woman ruling....and all that wonderful poetry and music about the place. However, as I do rather enjoy the benefits of modern plumbing I think I'd actually like to visit my parents as young marrieds in the early 1950s. Losing them when I was 18 means that I've no real sense of who they were as adults, as opposed to parents – and I'd love to change that, though I'm not convinced that I really want to experience the aftermath of rationing...
Hmmn. Maybe I'll just stay here - now is good.
2. What futuristic/science fiction development would you most like to see?
This week, as I run in ever decreasing circles, the ability to be in two places at once would be fabulous...or, better still, to stop time till I had caught up with it.
3. Which do you enjoy more: remembering the past, or dreaming for the future?
I do both, and love both...I love to tell the stories of the past and to see how our own stories intermesh with them, but when I look at my wonderful children I have so many dreams for them and their futures. On the whole, though, savouring the here and now feels like a good and wise policy....so I'm working on being present to the present.
4. What do you find most memorable about this year's Lent?
I fear that Lent has been high-jacked for me by the business of preparing to depart from St M's. The spiritual reading I promised myself, the space to pray and to be, have been set aside to be replaced by concern that I should end well, that I should do what I can to notice and appreciate all that is given to me in this place by these people. This may sound very affected, but one Holy Week during ordination training we were given a powerful and painful opportunity to meditate on our own deaths...As a parent, predictably my grief and anxiety was all around leaving my children. There was lots of other stuff around, of course, but I remember asking the chaplain in some desperation how she imagined that Jesus had felt as he connected his mother with his best friend, and was comforted by her answer “Utterly torn in two, I would think”....It has made it easier to consciously focus on his presence as I work on letting go of precious people and situations here.
5. How will you spend your time during this upcoming Holy Week? What part do you look forward to most?
Are you sitting comfortably?
Tomorrow, Palm Sunday, I am presiding at the early Eucharist, and then at 10.00 we have the Palm Sunday liturgy, a procession with palms from the shopping precinct into church and a Eucharist with a full dramatised Passion.
Monday features a last Assembly at the Junior School, and the setting up of the “Experience Easter” trail in church, ready to welcome one class in the afternoon....It also features a visit from FabBishop to our local secondary school, which is to become affiliated to the diocese, which is most exciting. In the evening we have Stations of the Cross..
Tuesday- another set of school visits, my final Jaffa Club and an Iona service in the evening
Wednesday – Home Communions (assuming I remember to contact those concerned) and meetings in Gloucester, followed by a Taize service at 7.30
Thursday -Chrism Mass at the Cathedral...the renewal of ordination vows, which feels specially wonderful and timely with my new job looming so largely ahead...the blessing of the oils (thanks to Marcella, I now have 3 completely undignified by completely water tight pots to collect the oils in...If I tell you that she works in the health service, I bet you can guess what they are usually intended for :-) )
Evening Eucharist of the Last Supper, with footwashing, stripping of the altars and the Watch in the garden...I'm both presiding and preaching at this service, which is for me one of the most special in the whole year...and I'm hugely grateful to WonderfulVicar for allowing me this privilege. After that I will head over to the Parish Centre where my lovely Koinonia have a sleep over and keep the Watch together...We have no huge craft programmes in mind this year, as they will all be tired from school (Easter doesn't coincide with school holidays in the UK any more thanks to the madness of the liturgical calendar...so they will only have Good Friday and Easter Monday as holidays) but we will keep watch with our Lord in the chapel, and just spend time together...maybe even sleep a little.
Good Friday – liturgy of the Passion, procession of witness with our ecumenical friends, the Three Hours (led this year by the ever wonderful Director of Ministry for the diocese, whose wisdom during my diaconal ordination retreat has shaped pretty much everything ever since...so I MUST be awake enough to hear him) and in the evening a choral concert in church.
Holy Saturday we rest in the tomb, or maybe we hang curtains at the new vicarage...till the Easter Vigil and Service of Light at 8.30......
Then there is Easter Sunday, with all its joy – enhanced by the admission of 4 children to Holy Communion for the first time. I'm presiding, and this is just the best way to say goodbye to the church family here.I am relying on the liturgy to carry me through the bits I would otherwise find impossible.
Prayers for the whole thing very very welcome.
There's a tea party in the afternoon, then I preach at Evensong – and that's it.
It is finished.
And then I get on a plane.
I can't help wishing the Big Event were a little closer to home, as the whole getting there and meeting up element feels very scary at the moment – but the prospect of a week drawing breath with some very dear people is a welcome one indeed. Too many transitions for one small curate....and not enough time, - but then, there never is!