We all woke early at Holland House, Cropthorne.
The previous night had felt quite strange, as my cohort of not-yet-revs returned to the retreat house, having watched those a year ahead of us (and oh SO much wiser and more grown up) kneel before our new bishop to be ordained priest. Together we had been on the most amazing journey, led by the then Director of Ministry, who both spoke of and demonstrated what lay ahead for us....he seemed to embody all my highest aspirations in priesthood and I was both encouraged and daunted.
Meeting +Michael, just days after his enthronement, I had voiced some of those fears, and been assured
For the first time of many I discovered he was right.
But first there was the self-conscious breakfast in clericals, next the anxiety that we should happen on a fatal car smash between retreat and Cathedral and risk either fraudulently offering sacraments with no authority behind us, or seem heartless as we shot past down the M5.
Oh, and the ordination knickers!
A whole vat dyed red at our last WEMTC residential, a secret reminder of solidarity with our fellow students being made deacon in Bristol, Hereford or Worcester. It was good to have something to giggle at, on that day of high seriousness...
Listening to the words of the ordinal, it was hard not to panic...How could I, how could any of us, hope to do this?..but then the liturgy acknowledged this
"Because you cannot bear this weight alone, pray earnestly..."
Now it was our turn to kneel as choir and congregation sung
"Come Holy Ghost, our souls inspire...."
and the Litany, including all our names
"For Geoffrey, Emma, Jenny, Linda, Sheila, Kathryn, Timothy, Sarah, Brian, Jacqueline, Mick, Charles...let us pray to the Lord" "Lord, have mercy".
The bishop's hands on my head, a realisation that, on this Independence Day, I was more fully and obviously dependent than ever before - and that this was absolutely alright.
The joy of offering the chalice to so many friends who had, quite wonderfully, somehow managed to be there
The thrill of walking out together, - NOT a formal procession but bishop and clergy setting out to get on with mission and ministry, said +M at our rehearsal,- as wave on wave of applause carried us into the brilliant sunshine.
And yes, he was right.
Ordination does work, and so much has, by God's grace, flowed from the day on which I made such a public declaration of dependence.
I am truly and startlingly blessed.