Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Here we go round the mulberry bush - or variations on a familiar theme.

I've spent the last 36 hours away with my Deanery chapter at the lovely diocesan retreat house that just happens to be in my training parish. While I'm generally happy and fulfilled in my work here, I still struggle with visiting Glenfall, with driving past my old church, past the homes of people whom I love and care about, and knowing that chapter of my life is done. Most of all, I miss the wisdom and companionship of my training incumbent, WonderfulVicar - and there's nothing like spending time with my chapter colleagues to make me fully aware of my own inexperience. Not that they are anything other than splendid and supportive - it's simply that as we spend time together reflecting on ministry and planning for an exciting Deanery Mission which will take place this coming autumn I find it very hard not to believe that I should be doing everything...and doing it now.
My colleagues, being older in ministry, if not in years, have a degree of realistic wisdom that I struggle with. Those with big dreams and ambitious plans generally have the human resources in place to make it at least conceivable that they might accomplish them. Me, not so much!
I know that wild excitement and high aspirations are part of the way I live life, and they have led me into all sorts of wonderful and surprising experiences...but I also know that I can only do so much and that fretting myself into misery over all the unattainable things I long to do won't benefit anyone.

I have an email from a wise wise friend posted beside my monitor...it begins with the reminder
"It's a marathon, not a sprint"
I'm reading and re reading it this evening, while contemplating the to-do's that might otherwise submerge me.

God willing, in two weeks time I'll finally get to that retreat that was stymied when I broke my arm last year. I want to go into that precious space with nothing too major outstanding, so that there's no voice at the back of my head saying "You really ought to have brought the laptop..."
So I'm listing the main things that are rattling around in the vicar's brain tonight, in no particular order - and looking forward to gradually crossing many of them off over the next 10 days.

Finalise liturgy for united Candlemas service
Write sermon for the above
Write funeral addresses x 2
Produce Lent leaflet (choosing suitable books to recommend - which ideally I should have read - hmmn - that could be problematic - any recommendations?)
Tweak material for First Communion course beginning Saturday
Find and reclaim my Youth Emmaus (have a vague memory of saying to someone a good while ago "Do borrow it, I can't see myself using it here for a while) or order a replacement copy for our young confirmands group beginning next month
Plan PCC Away Day (1st Saturday in Lent)
Confirm venue booked last year for above (or find an alternative...please God, no!)
Write reminders to PCC members for above
Plan Lent course (at least this year I'm not writing the thing)
Choose appropriate Sunday for taught Eucharist during Lent
Plan Experience Easter trail & dates
Write to local schools re Experience Easter
Order banner for Messy Church
Sort out access to parish website and update material there
Review Child/Vulnerable Adult Protection policies, ideally before Church on the Hill PCC on Thursday (revised editions should be with Social Resp. Director by the end of the month)
Respond to Valley Church PCC Secretary re extra agenda items for THEIR PCC
Christian Copyright Licence (there must be someone I can delegate this to...I feel pale green every time I open the file, but we ought to have paid some money several months ago)
Convene meetings x 2 to discuss our contribution to Deanery Mission
Consider role of closing service of above, which we are hosting and which I am apparently planning (ideally with a team, if one can be found...)
Plan the thing
Convene meeting of lay intercessors to follow up on FabBishop's training and share it with those unable to attend
Convene meeting of servers to iron out liturgical hiccoughs and to begin training children to serve
Read papers for Diocesan synod and assorted other meetings next week
Choose dates for deanery theology reading group which I agreed to convene before Christmas - and actually get hold of and read the flipping book.

Writing that lot down has scared me somewhat, but made it abundantly clear that the half-made decision to abort the possible extra service to celebrate love and marriage on St Valentine's Day is the only one possible. In any case, I would want the service to extend beyond the wedding couples of recent years to be a genuinely inclusive celebration - but there's a fair way to go before I can attempt to steer either congregation officially into the Inclusive Church fold, and my gut feeling is that this is a battle for another day.

Marathon, not sprint. Marathon, not sprint.

In a while I'm off to have a pub supper with the Herring of Christ (TM), as a follow-up to the recent curates' and incumbents' training morning. Curates are absolutely not and never should be a spare pair of hands, but another brain to help with the prioritising is more than welcome. Experience suggests that he will refuse to dance around the mulberry bush, and that can only be a good thing!


Kimberly said...

That list looks so familiar.

I am bewildered by the people who are organized 3-6 months in advance. I like the theory. I even try to practice it sometimes; but I can't ever find a starting point from which I am not already swamped with the immediate and urgent.

I wonder what the trick is.

Anonymous said...

If there is so much of a hint that you would think of taking your laptop on retreat I'll personally jump off my merry go round, drive up to the Welsh borders and steal it.

Song in my Heart said...

Kimberly, I don't know ayone who is organised 3-6 months in advance.

One thing I do try to do is work backward from important deadlines so they don't surprise me. Suppose I've been asked to write a piece of music to be performed on 8th January, and the singer will need it ideally by 1st January. I know it can take me a week to really feel settled with a text and a day or two to write a small work, so I schedule in a couple of days that are half a week before the deadline, then ask the singer to have the text to me a week before the first of those days... and if I really genuinely can't do that, I say no. (If I then don't get the text until later, meeting my deadline is not really my problem, though of course I will try to accommodate people if I possibly can.)

My main trouble is underestimating how much time it takes me to do the day in, day out stuff -- laundry and cleaning and writing in my journal and practising (though I have time goals for the latter, at least) and making meals, this nonsense of having to eat three times a day is just tedious... I'll look at a day that has two appointments in the morning and a rehearsal all evening and think I can spend the afternoon on a special project, when actually I need to spend that time just keeping everything else ticking over. Oops! Combine that with not always successfully planning my time for important deadlines (like the letting agent inspecting the house this morning) and I do lose whole days to emergency preparation.

Kathryn, someone gave me a Lent book yesterday, it's more sort of "daily prayer for people who aren't really used to it" but I will read it properly and let you know what I think.

We need to talk about website stuff, because it needs to be something that you can update but that can be passed to someone else when they are willing and have the time. There are, of course, ways to do this.

I don't know how much I can help with the Christian Copyright Licence stuff, though it's an area of interest for me. Someone on Twitter posted about it not too long ago and she might be a person to ask about how it's best done efficiently.

Marathons are run one step at a time.

Mary B said...

On Lent books, you might consider this year's Mowbray one : Strangely Warmed by Andrew Rumsey, who happens to be my previous training incumbent. 40 short pieces on themes ranging from bric a brac to gnosticism, with endorsements form Ian Hislop and Tom Wright. It may not be one you would automatically be drawn to (huge assumptions in there) but it's worth a look.

Rachel said...

Re. lent books, I wholeheartedly recommend 'The Road to Emmaus' by Helen Julian CSF and published by the Bible Reading Fellowship. It's from a few years ago, but I think still in print.

There is a short bible passage for each day of lent and the Easter weekend, plus reflections tying in the lenten journey with some English Mystics (one for each week of lent) - Julian of Norwich, Aelred of Riveaux, Thomas Traherne etc.

Good luck with the to-do list, and I hope you have a restful and refreshing retreat when it comes.

Graham said...

Good grief! I just read that list before going to bed and I got nervous.

I think I'm younger than you (nearly 44) and I've been doing this for over 10 years but I'm in complete awe at that list...wish I could just think of a list like that- let alone do it.

Hope you have a great retreat- give yourself a pat on the back; I know it may not feel like it but you are already tremendously competent!

Crimson Rambler said...

Kathryn -- about Presentation in the Temple -- Robertson Davies included a wonderful epiphany-season sermon in his novel "A Mixture of Frailties" -- about hos God sends us just the signal that we need to "get it" -- with nothing over. The shepherds needed pyrotechnics and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir...the Magi got a heavenly light in the midst of their intense, concentrated study...and Simeon and Anna got a little nudge in the heart and that was all they needed. Does it please?

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