alone … but connected

Been doing more reflecting and writing today on my two years as an OPM. This has resulted in more stories and more remembering!

An issue I have looked at today has revolved around the inevitable and necessary loneliness of this role and maybe of all pioneer roles in particular.

My YFC roles were always as part of great teams. I loved the teams I worked with because I love working as part of a team. I think a team approach is best as you learn from each other and grow together. The creativity of a team, in my experience, is far more than the sum of its separate parts. Something just ‘happens’ amongst a group of people who share a common aim but see the way ahead very differently from each other.

The bulk of the last two years, however, has seen my role as being one of working alone. I have the support of a great team of people behind me: my family, my prayer team, my colleagues and particularly Adrian, Ian and Jean … but I have still been ‘out there’ sitting alone, reflecting alone and searching alone. Although this is not my preferred way of working I have seen how God has used this, is using it and how things seem to happen as a result of my vulnerability in being alone.

One example: Yesterday I had Liz on placement with me. Liz is a curate who was ordained a year after me and as part of her (new) KCME course she gets to go on placement somewhere. I heard from Liz that while I went to the bar someone came in and asked the blokes ‘Is Rob here today?’ They responded that I was but that I was ‘with a lady’ and so the guy left.

To be available for people means I need to be alone and vulnerable and I wonder if there is something in my vulnerability matching that of others. Sometimes people share with me some quite deep stuff and the fact I am alone allows that to happen. It’s hard enough to share something with one person, but to share with two would be nearly impossible.

In addition to this I wonder whether a pioneer necessarily and inevitably needs to be alone in new environments so that they can immerse themselves in what they are doing. AS I look back over the last 2 years I can honestly say that I would not have noticed stuff going on around me if I had been with someone else. When things got difficult or quiet we would have chatted. Instead, I have not had that option … so I have observed and prayed and then observed a bit more. The amazing thing is that still, after 2 years of daily visits, I still see things that I have not noticed before and as I do I start to feel that I understand just a little bit more of hat is going on around me.

So I work alone, but not isolated. I work alone but feel very connected. I work alone so that I can have the freedom to respond to what happens around me.

(I also realised today that I am pleased that I have not lost the team approach totally and love the opportunity we have to plan be creative together as the gathering. In the last few months it is great, and a big relief to me,  that this working alone is becoming more balanced with a team approach … but that’s to be the topic of a later post!)

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