At the moment I'm struggling with an identity crisis!
Clouseau, the Citroen C3, comfortably "worn in" via vicarage gate posts & muddy, hairy retrievers, is visiting the garage for a spot of R&R. I'm hoping that he may even come home with the heating working once more...
The garage he's visiting belongs to G, a friend and parishioner, whose normal line of work is substantially further upmarket than the vicar's Citroen.
Knowing that Clouseau's stay might take longer than just one day, we had postponed and postponed hoping there might be a gap in the diary, but finally conceded that a carless day was just not going to be manageable - so G undertook to lend me a courtesy car for the duration.
Thus yesterday morning he appeared at the vicarage, we exchanged keys, and off he went into the chilly dawn, leaving me with the sort of shiny, perfect, grown-up car that would be the answer to most people's dreams.
It has a big engine (remember, my favourite car ever was my 2CV), amazing electric gadgets to do any and everything at the push of a button, cream leather seats, and automatic transmission. It's a splendid vehicle, which any sensible person would be thrilled to borrow.
And I have never been so uncomfortable in my life!
At first I thought it was simply because I was struggling to remember to avoid the non-existent clutch. However, after a couple of unscheduled emergency stops I learned that one quite quickly...
Then I thought it might be because the idea of the car choosing when I should change gear made me feel out of control. After all, I'm supposed to be brighter than this machine, right?
But it wasn't til I had to drive past the crowd of mourners as I followed the hearse from valley church yesterday that the penny dropped.
You see, I was desperate to open the window and assure them that of course this wasn't MY car, that I hadn't so far forgotten who I am called to be that I thought that driving around in something of this degree of shiny splendour would be in any way appropriate.
I hated that someone, anyone, might see me and believe that the church was that cut off from the life of this community, that forgetful of the Gospel's bias to the poor.
I felt as if, just driving through the parish, I'd somehow sold out (which is quite ridiculous, and not a little rude in the face of G's generous loan, for which I am genuinely grateful).
I realised, though, that I do see my car as an expression of myself.
I remembered how hard I found it to give up the ageing-hippy image of my 2CV when teenaged sons were simply too tall to be accommodated on the back seat any longer.I didn't feel ready to drive a sensible car, like a proper grown-up, and was far less excited about a brand new car than people assumed that I'd be. Clapped out rust heap v shiny new vehicle, with much better green credentials. It should have been a no-brainer but there were many tears shed when the 2CV departed forever.
In time, of course, I adjusted - I'm very fond of Clouseau, though he'll never have the personality of Daisy & Skippy, who came before him - but I'm pretty certain that whatever car I find myself driving in the years to come, it will never boast leather seats or the sort of opulence that is currently, nervously, parked in the vicarage drive.