Telling people that you are going to be become a Vicar can be both extremely fun and a bit daunting. How I feel about it very much depends on my mood. If I’m feeling ready for a dose of hilarity and can take it in good spirits then I approach the task with relish, drop the bomb and (as I tweeted earlier) watch as the person goes through the typical stages of shock, hilarity and it all (hopefully) ends in happy acceptance.
The daunting side comes when you’re feeling a bit tender. This is the ‘feeling a bit ill today/didn’t sleep well/am wearing a weird old jumper because it’s wash day’ moments where some well-meaning person says ‘so what do you do again?’ Oh for being an accountant! God bless them people ALWAYS have questions. It’s a big lesson in what it must be like to wander round in a dog collar. All of a sudden you ARE the church. It is open season on questions which is normally fine, great even, but some days you just want to be anonymous and ‘normal’. I can see myself taking very solitary holidays in the Outer Hebrides (actually make that a Greek Island…) when I’m fully Vicar-ed up.
There’s also the occasional time where someone recoils and you see the thoughts ‘Oh no, I didn’t realise you were a religious fanatic’ float through their mind. This despite the fact that they’ve known you for quite some time and you’ve not displayed any signs of lunacy yet. Or the moment you announce you have exciting news people exclaim ‘YOU’RE HAVING A BABY!!!’ and then seem genuinely disappointed that no, you’ve actually found your lifes vocation. Because of course we all know there is nothing interesting a woman can do in her late twenties but have babies. SIGH.
Some of the best reactions I have had include a Brazilian friend who stopped me in the street and said ‘I hear you’re going to be a Vicar! Bless me! Bless me now!’ I actually considered mumbling some completely insufficient prayer but decided to go for ‘Give me a few years (and an ordination service) first!’ And then of course there’s the usual ‘You’re the Vicar of Dibley!!’ as lamented by Liz over on her blog…
But then there is the good side. Witnessing a widening of perceptions right before your eyes. The confirmation that though it’s different it can also be good. And best of all the ‘I’d come to church if you were my Vicar.’ (BTW I will hold you to that….!)
There’s been some furore this week about the impending vote on women being allowed to become Bishops in the Church of England. I read a piece in The Guardian about it and in the (dreaded) comments section someone wrote something along the lines of ‘Women would do better to just not get involved in this insane organisation and focus their energies elsewhere.’
I feel positively gleeful to be doing the exact opposite of that. To be a living representative of what we say each Sunday - ‘I believe in the church’. And even if I would give my right arm for this vote to go through I would be part of the church either way and do everything I can to work with respect with those who disagree with me. That’s the kind of community I want to represent and it is the community I encounter 99% of the time. So long live the ‘I’m going to be a Vicar’ chats if it blows the conversation open and there’s always that Greek Island when I need to retreat….!