and, though I've had a slight incursion into my day off in the form of a service for Scouts, Cubs, Brownies and Beavers (in honour of St George's Day) I therefore have a bit of time to call my own...and in which to blog as well.
I wish there were space to do some real processing -whether online, in a journal or even on the phone to a friend - but currently it's all about living it...getting things done in reasonable order...making connections in all directions and loving for all I'm worth.
So, the blog continues to be a poor starved thing and I so regret the reduced contact with my online friends - but can't for the life of me see viable ways to maintain it at the moment, beyond this very sporadic existence.
One Pedestrian wanted to know about my roof appeal and whether or not we had one of those alarming thermometer wotsits outside the church to track our progress towards being watertight. I'm happy to report that Church on the Hill is made of sterner stuff. The church itself is a pre-Raphelite dream, with windows by William Morris, Burne Jones, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and co, while the appeals committee is pretty much a new vicar's dream too, being full of ideas, enthusiasm and effective purpose. The sum to find is huge, but so is the committment of those involved, so that the appeal actually looks (at the moment at least) not so much like an albatross but more like a good way of getting to know a wide range of people in the village, including those who would never darken the door of the church for worship.
Of course, this raises its own questions about how to help them to move from devotion to the building to a relationship with the God whose love is its foundation - and if I crack that one, I promise you'll hear about it!
Meanwhile, down at Church in the Valley, life continues in a rather more earthed and earthy mode...I've met some wonderful people and been privileged to hear some deep stories of holy ground. I've also been welcomed into the church school, spent a happy morning painting pirate ships with the Playgroup, and talked to a goodly collection of wedding and baptism families. One rather lovely thing is that a mum who came to discuss her daughter's baptism turns out to be the sister of a groom from one of my St M's weddings...and the couple I married will be godparents when their little neice is baptised. I love that sort of connection - I was smiling for the rest of the day after that.
Of course it's not all beer and skittles - (or even red wine and doritos, which I must say I would prefer). Valley parish has quite a high mortality rate, as this is not a wealthy community at all, - so I'm not in danger of forgetting how to take a funeral at all at all.
Funeral visits are always sad, sometimes surprising and often inspiring.
How else could I describe the loving determination of parents who for nearly six decades have made their disabled son the centre of their universe? Now the mother is gone, leaving father and son to manage alone...How much S grasps I really don't know, but his father's grief is raw and heartbreaking and being there in the pain with them feels nothing like enough - but it's all I can humanly do.
Prayers for them both hugely welcome.
On a brighter note, my favourite story to date concerns a hospital visit to a wonderful lady in her 90s. I introduced myself as "Kathryn, the new priest at St Matthew's" and we enjoyed an excellent conversation about cats and other important things...When it was time to go my offer to pray was received with enthusiasm but at the end, instead of loosing my hand she grasped my wrist in a vice-like grip and asked with desperate urgency
"So tell me...what's the new vicar like?!"
"You'll have to tell me" I replied...and after a blank moment or two she broke into smiles
"It's you, isn't it..."
Well, I guess it pretty much is - hard though it can be to believe sometimes.
It is me, and I'm happy to be so.