A Day in the life of a Vicar….

Since my sabbatical in 2015 I have tried to live a work differently. Two full days off a week and a starting point of forty hours a week. One of the days off is creativity focused and the other just resting. I find this kind of pace means that I can be fully engaged in both my family life and working life. But I still often get asked, “so what do you vicars do during the week”. So I thought I would give a snapshot of what has be a busy day.
5.45am I get woken up by our barking chocolate lab who has decide she wants a to go out. In my experience she should not be ignored other wise the consequences can be messy. I watch her in the garden and stare at the coffee machine. Expresso wins and so to work on the summer rota – yes I am a bit behind as it is July.

7.30am Rota finished and emailed to the 25 people who will be helping to make Sunday’s happen over the summer. Few more emails sent to try and start the the day as clear as possible. Updated a new webpage that a number of the team are working on.

7.45am Made tea for Meg and woke up the kids up late. Usual family prep for the day, all hands on deck.

8.15am Bit of work on family accounts as trying to be better with budgeting.

8.30am Running shoes on. We leave the house a bit late with one 10 year old on scooter and two dogs. School drop. 6.5 miles later and very tired dogs, my run it complete. Prayed for for a few other churches and leaders on the way (Ian – Rivera Life, John St Matthias) as well as stopping to talk to a couple of people from church on the way round.

9.30 Finish getting ready for the day and called a company to chase delivery of new church doors.

10am Time with two leaders at St Mags, looking at an outreach project and a way to review another key part of church life – small groups. Important leadership lessons on the way.

11.30 (35 as I was late) Coffee in Neros with another key leader for supervision and coaching. Asked at iPhone repair shop if they could fix sons phone that was run over by a car yesterday.

12.45pm Back to church to fix my dyslexic error on the poster for Sunday. Tried to find old keys for two doors at church – nope, they are lost.

1.30pm Grabbed lunch and ensured backup happened on computer that is starting to run slow.

2pm Funeral visit. What a privilege to hear the story of a couple who found love again in later life. These are sacred moments. Stayed an extra half hour as it was so precious.

3.45pm To town to get iPhone fixed. On the way stop to chat to a friend of St Mags about the painful stuff of life. Spent five mins with a guy that is high and scared. Talked to a girl in her early twenties who has recently come to faith and is struggling to make drug free friends. Chatted in passing to one of the guys who was baptised last year and is busking. Back to phone…. First shop unhelpful, second sorted. Coffee and planning at Costa while they get it fixed. Pinging church administrator on Trello (who should not be responding to messages as she is not working this afternoon) re current projects, funeral, wedding and new church bank account. Also exchanging so texts and returning some calls from people growing in faith. Bumped into Meg and the kids. Back past church, someone is asleep round the side. Try to wake him up, he is off his face with his big dog on guard. He wakes eventually and we have a good chat. I leave him there as he is alive and does not seem to been in danger or a danger to others. Sleep is prob the best option.

5pm Delivered fixed phone to son – he was sort of grateful (joy of being Dad)

5.25pm Few more texts and asked one of the Mags team to take the lead tomorrow night.

5.30pm Drove to Exeter for a meeting on a difficult subject but in very good company. Amazingly I am ten mins early. Just about managed to behave with three Bishops and an Archdeacon in the room. Good food and then heavy focused conversation. Finish at 8.45, very drained but it was healthy and life giving.

9.30 Back in Torquay, few texts and emails. Called Mum and Dad to check they are alright – they are carrying so big stuff very graciously.

10pm Sofa and decide to write day in life of a Vicar – Gin and Tonic.

Choosing Difficult Anyway

I find myself in a strange position where the things I think are at odds with those around me.

A shift of a hundred years has brought much needed change and freedom. To so much of it yes, yes, yes. But there are also fundamental fractures that if untended may never heal. I am choosing to stand on this hallowed and uncomfortable turf called home. To keep on placing myself in a painful place is difficult but I am choosing difficult anyway.

What is stranger still is the packaging of this thinking in the form of “British Values”. I should be able to sign up for them; they should be the reference point for something good. They should be mine but they just sound like lies from the spin doctors. Did we vote on them or have a referendum? Maybe I was away for that one, or perhaps no one thought we would notice. They try to provide unity and peace of mind but really they are just a cover for the rich getting richer and pleasing themselves. I have lived here all my life but this turf feels less and less like home. I could hide away and keep low but I feel the need to engage. I am choosing difficult anyway.

New freedoms in living for some mean that the old prisons become places where ideas are locked away. Old wisdom no longer valid; theology altered so none are offended. I don’t have words to express to this world the truth that lives in me in a way that translates beyond the bars of it’s incapacitated thinking.

Strange how a society that values tolerance what’s to imprison or better still eradicate my freedom to think differently. Surely tolerance is more that just not upsetting others with different views. I don’t like or want the pain of this, yet I choose difficult anyway.

Perhaps I should pull away? Pursue the easy life and not cause trouble or ask questions.

Just like everything and give my silent consent.

But this is not true to who I am, to the truth living in me who invites me to choose difficult anyway. So I stay and love and listen, with my theology and thinking still in tact, knowing there is hope in this life and the next.

I am choosing that old and difficult way of love anyway.

Return to Normality

Four go back and all on track… I think.backtoschool

Yet a year or more of being constantly on call has taken it’s toll

on

us

all.

Now all back to school.

I don’t do silence very well, it makes my legs itch.

But this quiet has been longed for.

The house returning to normality, the quiet rhythm of the day.

 

While I can wish that somethings never happened,

I can not wish away what I have learnt about myself and others.

I love the chaos and thrive in mess, but don’t do well without a space to rest.

 

I have changed forever yet I remain committed

to community,

knowing that I also need to step back on a regular basis.

to family,

yet even here I need my space, not hiding behind a paper or screen but so I can fully engage.

to God,

even when my mind can not compute and I wrestle with the truth

to Meg (my dear wife and best friend),

with whom I have shared many tears and learnt not to fear the sadness, we are closer now than ever.

to caring for myself,

I’m getting fitter, lighter, reflecting more and learning to live each day in the light of God’s grace.

 

In this return to normality I do not crave a lack of chaos, but simply the space to handle it well. To retain clear thinking where I can practise, loving God, neighbour and self.

 

Being present for me requires an empty head.

Living beyond the pain of yesterday

Reflecting on a difficult year and the start of a new one. On how we can so easily slip into survival and self protection, life is not easy, but life is better than just getting through.

Living beyond the pain of yesterdaylets do life

Life leaves us hurting
Relationships are rarely easy
Parenting is painful
Leadership is lonely
Creativity always costly

Today I celebrate…. but it is not always like that

Shrink back
Pull away
Close off
Manage
Consume

Survival is key…. but living is better

Trust…
God, others, self…
Broken

I don’t want to walk on broken glass, it hurts my feet…

But today
I choose to walk
Though the pain of yesterday
Towards the hope of today

Diving head first into the wounded hands of the life giver
Thanking God for the gift of marriage, of children and of friends

Embracing

Risking

Creating

Leaving behind the drysuit of survival that numbed the pain

Life
as painful are you are
today I choose

Wives submit to your husbands…?

There are often discussions about the roles of men and women in the church in the light of what scripture says (or does not say). Here are my thoughts on the subject in a talk called “The key to marriage”.

http://stmarymagdalene.org.uk/Media/Player.aspx?media_id=117229&file_id=127512

Comfort vs Growth

This last year has been tough and as the year draws to a close the natural process of reviewing has begun.

What am I grateful for? What do I want to change? I usually make a few resolutions, simple ones each year. Most of the time they are around health, relationship with God and people.

This year I think one simple one will do.

The year was tough, but we are all here and mostly sane, so I am very thankful. But the struggles have shown themselves on my waistline. When things have got difficult I have sort comfort and become comfortable. But it it not just my gut, it’s my thinking, praying, relating and leading that have all become a little weighed down with comfort.

So I resolve in 2014 to leave comfort behind and go for growth.

The Tale Of The House On The Cliff And The Man Who Did Nothing…

20131227-203155.jpg

Once upon a time there was a man who lived in a house on the cliff top in Torquay. Everyone new that one day the house would fall down the cliff but it hadn’t happen yet so the man felt safe and did nothing except fill the house with life’s little luxuries. The views were wonderful and life was good.

Every so often a storm would come and a little of the cliff beneath the house would crumble away. But the house never fell into the sea. So the man did nothing except invite his friends to come and live in the house with him and enjoy the amazing views.

Then one day a big storm came (as happens about every 20-30 years) and the cliffs became sodden and soft. The people in the surrounding area became afraid and so they all sort shelter in the house. Even thought the winds blew they became a wonderful community.Then in the middle of the night the red cliff just crumbed and fell into the sea. Trees gone, garden gone, patio gone and the house? Well it began to crumble and the walls at one end fell into the sea. The house still stood but it was only a matter of time. The solid ground had gone but the house still stood, well just, so the man did nothing. Except now he had many guests. So he continued to equip the house and cook for everyone, he cut back a little but mostly he just carried on as normal, living in the house on the edge of the cliff that was falling into the sea.

One day the man got bad news, his money had dried up and so he had to make cut backs. He could have asked the people who where living with him what they should all do, he could have asked for help at a house down the road. But no, he thought the answer to his problems would be to get rid of all the people who where now living in his house seeking shelter and comfort from the storms. So with very little notice the man drew in his belt and proposed a new household budget that involved pulling down the house that was already so badly damaged.

He made no provision for all the people that had found care and protection living in his house. He looked for no alternative accommodation. He just put his hands in the air and called in the demolition crews.

If you stand in that place now the views are still fantastic. But the man’s cliff top house has gone. The wonderful community that had lived in his house crumbed like the cliffs and drifted away. Now they live wherever they can and have no shelter from the storm.

What happened to the man you ask? Well he just kept on ignoring the storm and the crumbling cliffs and doing nothing.

+++++++++++++++++
Please sign the Torbay SOS petition and help to Save Our Services http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/torbay-council-save-our-services
Doing nothing is not an option.
+++++++++++++++++