The last 36 hours has zipped by in a bit of a whirlwind and I have hardly been able to catch my breath.

The retreat ended and we made our way to Bishopscourt for lunch before then moving to the cathedral. By this time the nerves were at a height as we gathered and robed in the crypt. We then prayed and processed outside and entered the cathedral through the west door.

It was an amazing sight standing at the top of the stairs and seeing the encouraging faces of my family and friends. As I looked around the cathedral I was truly amazed by how many people had given up their Saturday to support me. It was incredibly moving and quite difficult to hold back the tears.

The ordinations service was around 2 hours long although raced by from where we were standing/sitting/kneeling. For each of us it was a very special moment when Bishop Michael laid his hands on our heads and ordained us. Our retreat conductor suggested at this time we thought of Jesus ordaining us as well, which made the event very powerful.

We had a party after at Terry and Jo’s and again I was struck by the number of people who turned out – I was truly humbled and felt very privileged. So many people said so many kind things and I have so many thank you letters to write!

I just need and want to say thank you here for all those wonderful people. You were and will continue to be an amazing encouragement. You are great friends and it was amazing that you shared this with me.

As I look back over the last day and a bit, I must admit I have asked a few times ‘what on earth have I done!’ I can’t pretend to understand fully what has happened, or what I have taken on, but I guess that will become more understandable as I start this new journey.

No doubt there will be some photos flying around soon – Dennis wins the prize for posting the first which you can spot via his facebook page! … errrr cheers mate!

rereat day 3 friday

Today has been an interesting day for emotions. The meeting with the Bishop went well. He asked some questions about things in my final report from SEITE around my thoughts on ecclesiology and the sacraments. It was a good discussion and he made some excellent observations and suggestions.

Everybody seemed to have a good meeting with the bishop which, at this stage, is quite encouraging. This was followed this afternoon by taking our oaths, After doing this there was a great sense of reaching the point of no return.

This process of swearing was followed by the bishops charge which he talked a little about ways of being church. We had a good question and discussion time after.

Today I feel we have really started to gel as a group and started to laugh together.

This is now very much the home straight, Tomorrow we have one last and brief session before making our way back to the cathedral to be ordained after having lunch with the bishop.

I still feel quite nervous and overwhelmed by what is happening and on a shallow not I really hope the rain that I can hear lashing outside my window at the moment has all disappeared by tomorrow – particularly for the party that is happening afterwards!

rereat day 2 thursday

Morning prayer at 7am is a killer – I don’t believe God is even awake then enough to hear Common Worship morning prayer! A good start to the day. After breakfast I explored the building a bit. The sisters have some great places for silence and reflection: a wonderful Chartes Labyrinth set out in a large room, a sacred space area in the hermitage in the top of the roof, and a blue room set up for reflection. I’ll try some of these out as the retreat progresses.

There were two main thoughts for today based on Philippians – to pray and ask God to guard our hearts and to take care of our minds by continually allowing them to be stretched and educated. One helpful idea was called ‘access denied’ by Michael where things that he keeps churning over in his mind are put to the side and given to God so that he can get on with stuff. This is something I could do with developing in my life.

During today I went for a long walk as the sun was shining for a little while. I walked to Hever and Back which was just a couple of hours in total along some quiet roads and through some nice scenery while passing the occasional massive house. I was struck by the richness of God’s creation as well as the richness of humanity.

I wandered into St Peters in Hever to get out of the rain and found a little oasis of peace of and history. This is the location of the tomb of Sir Thomas Bullen – Anne Boleyn’s dad and so Queen Elizabeth I’s grandfather. I stood before the altar and used the time to outline my nervousness to God. This was a special time as I felt God say ‘I am the God who called you, the God who has been here since long before Henry VIII. I understand your nerves, but your call comes from me.’ I do not profess hear God’s voice regularly in this way, and so this was quite a powerful time for me. Seems odd I needed to find myself in a small silent church to be reminded of something so basic.

Tomorrow will be a different day again as we are joined by the bishops and each have a short interview with one of them.

rereat day 1 wednesday

Today we congregated in the cathedral for a rehearsal of Saturday’s ordination service. It was good to see old friends again and meet new ones. The rehearsal seemed to go smoothly, and is not very complicated although there seems to be a fair bit to remember. I think the difficult bit is going to be not tripping up over my cassock after kneeling!

After the rehearsal we joined the sisters at Edenbridge where the retreat really started. It is a lot more relaxed than I thought it would be. There are opportunities for silence rather than it being a silent retreat. That makes sense to me as we have opportunity for personal relevance in these few days.

I mainly realsied today that it is not only ok, but very normal, to feel nervous over the days ahead. I feel a fraud, but so does everyone else. It’s good to be with others who realise this is all about God using us, not us taking an option – and we all feel daunted, nervous and scared about that. The best comment I heard today was from Michael Adams, our retreat director,: ‘after 27 years of ordained ministry … I am more excited today about the ministry than I was when I was first ordained … which I remember being quite scared and bewildered by.’ I hope I can share that same sentiment in years to come.

Ended the evening with a couple of glasses of Jura – although I could only find one fellow person to join me.

nervous retreating!

Today I start with 10 others on the retreat before ordination.

I feel quite strange, nervous even, which has come as a bit of a surprise.
I am nervous about what is going to happen on retreat, I am nervous about the reality of this step and feel totally inadequate for the task ahead of me.

The retreat is being held at The Sisters of St Andrew in Edenbridge. I will join this community today and then then not see my family again until we all meet up for lunch with the Bishop of Rochester on Saturday afternoon before the ordination service in the cathedral.

The program looks good as we have five sessions looking at Philippians with a sub title of ‘Models from a missionary pioneer and master pastor’, although I hope the bar is not set too high as I feel very lacking already!

I doubt the sisters will have a wifi connection – but if they do I will possibly be blogging about my experiences, although to keep in the spirit of retreat I will not be answering emails, replying to comments or visiting facebook.

As I look ahead for these next 4 days I continue to feel apprehensive, not just about the rereat and ordination, but also as I feel I am pretty much presenting myself to the Trinitarian God in a way that I do not think I have done before and so I couple that with a desire to look for what God will be doing and saying.

the hidden side

I had a kind of taster day and started my induction at the cathedral today.

I joined others at Morning Prayer at 8.00am in the Quire.
I then joined others for Eucharist in the Crypt at 8.30am.
By 9.10am I was sat in a cafe with a coffee thinking I could get used to this life.
I joined staff meeting at 10am and then met with the Dean for a couple of hours at 11 top have a tour around the cathedral and meet some people.

This was quite an exciting time for me. As we wandered I became more and more aware of not only how privileged I am to have this role, but also how many others have walked around this building in the many centuries that have gone before.

There were not many people at the services, but that is not really what it is about. As I chatted with the dean we were looking at some of the statues around the cathedral. This statues have been carefully crafted hundreds of years ago by stone masons who took every bit of care with the back of the statue that lies against the wall and is never seen as they did with the front of statues that is continually on display.

Why make so much effort on something that will never be seen? The only answer is that it was done for the glory of God, not for the praise or notice of man.

I think there is something in that about daily cathedral worship – it is not about numbers, nor is it about style – it is about God.