Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Why I want* to be a Vicar

I had a request today via Twitter for a post on this subject and what can I say, dear blog readers - you ask, you receive! Just call me your Fairy God-Vicar. Hmm...that sounds a bit weird.....

Anyhoo, back to subject in hand 'Why I want* to be a Vicar'. I use an * here because 'want' has always struck me as a weird term to use when talking about this subject. When I first got through the selection process for ordination training people would often say 'So you want to be a Vicar?' and I would say 'No! Well, yes, I suppose. Gah! I don't know!'. There were a few quizzical brows! But the thing is, does anybody really want to be a Vicar? It's a massive responsibility to which you commit your whole life and that, if you have any sense, you feel completely inadequate for. To say it is something I 'want' to do just doesn't ring true to my ears even now.

No, rather than 'want', its almost a 'must' and there a few reasons for this. Firstly because of that pesky, every disruptive force, the notorious G.O.D. I didn't plan this or decide it would be a clever way to spend my late twenties. Rather it was something that burst suddenly into my life one day and just wouldn't go away. I first felt that this Vicar-ing lark might be for me when I got married. The only way I can describe it is that I felt a deep sense of recognition as I sat opposite the Vicar who would be marrying us. There was something in her that rang out like a bell to me. I knew that one day, I would be there. It would be me.

Being a (vaguely) sensible sort however I figured this strange idea, should it ever come to fruition, would do so sometime in the very, very distant future. I mean, who has ever heard of a twenty something Vicar? I had no mental image for that so I just carried on with life, wondering about it periodically but no more than that. It was simply an impossibility to me until I was much older, much wiser and perhaps had a rocking chair that I would rock back and forth knowingly in.

Until, that is, one evening on my way to church where, amid the turmoil of yet another disappointing job, I foolishly prayed that I might know what the right thing was for me to be doing with my days. I walked into that church and realised I has unwittingly stumbled into an ordination service. I felt sick throughout the entire thing, like the finger of God, in buzzing neon, was pointing right at me. From there I did a little bit of testing the waters, quite certain that I would be laughed out of whatever official church bods office I was sent to before too long. Three years later, here I am in my second year of training for ministry. Look who got the last laugh eh? Pah!

So the question of what I want and why I am here has felt like a journey of discovery. From sitting in my final interview answering the question of why church ministry was for me and (weepily) yelling out 'I don't care about anything else!' to realising on my many placements last year that what I have been called to is the most awesome of privileges. Slowly, I have been figuring it out. In many ways it feels like a process of decoding myself and my past, like solving the great big puzzle of why I came to be where I am and how that might be part of building a future for the church.

Yes, I am a bit of a wild card. I have no credentials to speak of, no great ancestry of Vicars behind me. I'm just a small, loud girl from Windsor who picked up a bible a few years ago and now gets to lead a church. But I've come to think that that, really, is the genius of it. Because God, my friends, has no favourites. We are all infinitely cherished and loved and if me being plain, ordinary and even a little bit daft at times helps people to see that then my work here is done.

So that is why I want to be a Vicar, to share this tremendous secret, this great big love I've found. I want people lives to be better and fuller and more technicolor than they already are. I want them to be themselves but in surround sound and HD. I believe that that is what knowing and loving God is all about. I want to build happier and healthier communities. I want to share gospel values of service and kindness and love. I want to be with people in their best and their worst. I want to leave the world a little bit better than when I came into it. And when you think about it like that, well, being a Vicar is the best darn job on earth!

Monday, 11 November 2013

The festival that shall not be named

Unless you have been living down a hole for the last few weeks you can't have failed to see the deluge of emails, tweets and adverts that have flooded our world all preparing us for the big 'C', the 'festival that shall not be named'. I have blogged about my great joy at this particular season but I am still a stickler for it remaining in its proper time and for me that means December. But just you wait, come December the 1st IT. IS. ON. Until then John Lewis can send as many anthropomorphised bears and rabbits in my direction as they like. I shall not be moved.

I am, however, starting to think about gifts for my loved ones as, well, I quite like them and want to get them something good. I also start thinking early because time is the friend of the well thought out gift rather than the last minute 3 for 2 from Boots. Time means I can do some online ordering from companies who are doing some real good in the world. There are so many people making beautiful and ethical products and I'd much rather be giving these that some naff plastic affair I picked up a couple of day before the 'festival that shall not be named'.

So here are a few tips for brilliant companies doing brilliant stuff for your nearest and dearest:


Whether you are making your own items for your family (go you!) or you have a crafter in your midst there are heaps of excellent crafting companies online and many are small, family run affairs. I just got this stash of seasonal fabric for my 'festival that shall not be named' bunting from Plush Addict. Swoon.

Created Gifts

From one of my most favourite charities, Tearfund, comes this brilliant online shop full of gorgeous jewellery and homewares that are all fairtrade and made by skilled people from around the developing world. Lots of the products come with videos or stories about where the products came from. One of my particular favs are their bangles. Everyone needs bangles.

From Created.com
I also love Exclusive Roots who have a store in Oxford but also retail online. They have brilliant homewares, jewellery and fashion. I picked up a dress made for Paris Fashion Week by an outfit of Kenyan ladies for Global Mamas there and I still absolutely love it.

Beauty from L'Occitane

I recently went for a free facial at L'Occitane and bloomin' eck their stuff is lovely. Anything from their range would go down like an ice lolly in the desert with me this 'festival that shall not be named'. Even better than the general yumminess of their products is that their Shea Butter range uses fairtrade butter from Burkina Faso. Double win.

From http://uk.loccitane.com/
Fashion from People Tree

Got a passion for fashion? I do! And there is no where better to indulge than at People Tree as it is another fairtrade wonder! Lots of lovely dresses for all those 'festival that shall not be named' parties you will be going to as well as great gifts of cosy jumpers and scarfs for the people in your life that you really, really like.

Swit swoo from www.peopletree.co.uk
If in doubt, buy Tea

I'm afraid I'm going to break my rule with the next image, but you can handle it, right? You've survived much worse as you struggle round the supermarket listening to Mariah Carey belt out completely seasonally inappropriate tunes. The reason I am compelled to break my own rules is that I am just loving this tea at the moment. It is everything good about winter in a cup, warming, spicy and just darn perfect.

Happy 'festival that shall not be named' preparations my loves!

Sunday, 3 November 2013

London Calling

My husband and I have reached that landmark time and are both turning thirty within the next year, or the next week for him! This seemed like the perfect opportunity to get out and enjoy our youth somewhat with a trip to London. We've been really missing our adventurous stint in Europe over the summer so we took to the capital with the full enthusiasm of the tourist but with all the added advantages of knowing the language and some hot spots to visit without the aid of too many guide books.

Westminster Abbey where we popped in for a spot of evensong
Entering St James' Palace
Raven at the Tower of London!
Being pretty obsessed with all things food and drink related this involved a trip to the Hummingbird Bakery in South Kensington for a Black bottom Cupcake and a brief detour from tourist activities to visit the Twinnings shop on the Strand. As a self proclaimed tea connoisseur and having a truly disturbing knowledge of the range of most British tea companies I breezed in and picked up some replenishments of the more obscure teas in my collection and was easily persuaded into buying a tin of 'Christmas Cheer'. It's packed full of cloves, orange and cinnamon on a base of Assam. As you can see I was most pleased (and a bit damp) by the Thames after my visit.

We then went to Covent Garden for cocktails in a bar so loud we remembered why we spend most of our time in the sleepy pubs in our village. Still you're only young once, the drinks menu was somewhat more extensive than our local and you couldn't get a better people watching spot in Britain! A sophisticated dinner of a meatball burger (yes, really) followed at husband's request and then we battled through the chilly streets back to our room in Hammersmith for some rest and recuperation (being nearly 30 and all...)

Our little B&B....
Today we spent our days exploring the Tower of London before bidding farewell to London and all its drama (and people, so many people!!) and heading home. The weekend was a great reminder that life is a whole lot more than work and deadlines. Yes, what you get up to in the working hours is important and can be wonderfully fulfilling but we are so much more than that. Life is for adventures too. Seeing new things, getting lost in the crowd, getting chilly and pink-cheeked and eating meatball burgers. Bliss!