It seems rather surreal to say it but I am now fast approaching the end of my fifth term at college and I am more than half way through my Vicar training. In some ways it feels like I have been there for ever. So many long, dark nights out yonder in the countryside! So many, many essays! And yet in other ways it is as if I have just arrived. The whole thing can still be mightily mysterious even on my best days.
I find that I am changing so rapidly here that it's hard to keep up with myself and my own thoughts and feelings. One of the great blessings of my time at college so far has been the chance to study theology to a depth where my whole world view has been shaken up and reordered again. I feel more uncertain and yet oddly more sure. Best of all I feel so much more in awe of this world and of God. I feel like I'm setting out on a new journey and a lifetime of learning.
My experience of training has been given a major boost this year by the church I have been going to and helping out at a bit. There I am reminded of all the things I love about Church. It is down to earth, passionate, brilliant fun, a force for good in the community and a place where I feel happy and rested. When the going gets tough it is good to have a place like that to remind me of where I am heading and that working in church really is a place where I feel fulfilled and at home.
This is a great comfort when, like me, you wander round church practically wearing a sandwich board with the word 'Why?' plastered across it. I really believe that we have to get happy asking 'why' and happy answering it if we are going to make faith and church in any way understandable to a new generation. This is the blessing (and sometimes the difficulty!) of being an interloper into the church as one raised outside of it. I have little attachment to anything but God and his goodness.
No, my heart is tugged more often by very ordinary things and I'm learning to love that. This is what our lives are made up of after all. We need to understand that the holy place is right where we stand. And so last week my heart was tugged by this song on Nashville. It struck me that through all this time with fancy theories and ways of doing things, for all the 'oughts' and 'shoulds', I find myself, deep down, only wanting to return to the simple. To live a life that's good. Nice one, Nashville!