Thursday, 18 September 2014

Diverse World

I've been here on Uni Campus for the last three days now and it has been quite the education. It feels both nostalgic and like brand new territory. In many ways it feels like just yesterday that I was arriving at University and facing that horrible moment when your parents drive away and you are sat on your bed thinking 'What on earth do I do now?!' A few hours later and I was happily ensconced in the bar but, still, it is a life changing moment, the feelings of which are still etched on my memory, probably for all time.

But there are also so many new things I am discovering here. Though I have been interested in multi-faith work for a while this is the first time that I have been in a truly multi-faith setting where different religions work together under one roof to serve a single population of people. It's quite wonderful really. There is so much that is shared between the major faiths that it isn't really so hard to find common ground and a shared purpose of serving the student body, of all faiths and none. This seems to bond people in a special way as they go for a shared vision.

The chaplaincy here is like a little hub of life with everyone popping in. I've chatted over a cuppa with atheists, Muslims and Catholics in the space of a few days - to name but a few. As well as just hanging out a huge range of people use the space to pray and it strikes me that there is something wonderfully ideal about a room where people of all the major faiths, and of no faith at all, come to pray or meditate. It feels to me like something we should be aspiring towards more in society. Not an abandoning of our differences but an understanding of our shared humanity. Seeing that difference, rather than being a hindrance to relationship, can be creative and inspiring.

It also reminds me of how important a space is to reconnect with what it means to be a human being rather than an employee or a role or a grade. Having just emerged from the higher education bubble I know how easy it can be to get sucked into evaluating your worth on the basis of your last essay grade. Likewise whatever stage of life we are in it can be so easy to equate our value with our latest appraisal. We're just worth so much more than that though, right? And all these things are temporary and nothing compared to the real value we have as people. It's great to be part of a place, even for a little while, that seeks to remind people of that.

Another great placement, another great adventure of Summer (can I still say that now its gotten so grey!?) This really is the vacation that keeps on giving!

Monday, 8 September 2014

The Countryside...Continued!

Still here! Still alive! You know how I discovered last week that I really am a townie? Yeah, well, now I REALLY know I'm a townie. Don't get me wrong, the countryside is beautiful, especially with this revival of summer we are experiencing here in Blighty but nonetheless I really miss coffee shops and people watching and ready availability of supermarkets.

Its is rather nice!

Things have been going well here though. In the nicest possible way I have learned what I am not made for but that is valuable in and of itself, right? I think it is safe to say that I am not destined to be a country Vicar cycling from parish to parish and waving hello to all the tiny hamlets I pass on my way. I miss the hustle and bustle and, well, shops and stuff.

Nonetheless there is much that is transferable to my preferred habitat of suburbia. People, after all, are much the same wherever you go. Same questions, same worries, same ups and downs. I've done heaps here from leading a whole load of services, giving a whole load of sermons and even had the chance to entertain the local primary school with the first story I have penned in an absolute age. It reminded me of how wonderful it is to have a chance to be creative and even better when it is part of the day job.
Summer makes a welcome return!

There have also been challenges too. I am on a journey and a half when it comes to preaching. I've mentioned before that I have been nervy, genuinely knee knockingly nervy, when speaking in front of people until very recently. I've overcome that now, such that people actually think I am confident when I speak in front of them (that's called acting, dahhhling!).
And in a weird way I am becoming more confident, fake it till you make it and all that. But I still have a long way to go and the temptation to settle at 'just ok' is so much stronger than I anticipated it would be. Turns out it safer to hide behind a lectern clutching notes than to boldly emerge, look people and the eye and tell them what you've got to say.

Still, now that I'm here blogging about it I suppose I am committing myself to the harder path, striving not for perfection but to being really bloomin' good and that, I know, involves boldness, bravery and a whole lot of practice. I have one last sermon here to give before I head off for my next placement at a Uni in London for Freshers (ahhh, its like returning to the mother ship!) so I suppose I had best make it a good 'un. Be brave!!!

Much love from the country....!