The week started with a chapter meeting (a collection of local Anglican clergy and Church Army people for those who don’t understand weird CofE terminology) where Mark Beach, the Dean of Rochester, and ex-boss, came to talk about the relationship between deaneries, parishes and the cathedral. It reminded me how incredibly fortunate I was to have served my curacy at such an amazing place as well as feelings of jealousy over the fact that plans for the crypt and stuff which we have been speaking of for years are about to start. I am really looking forward to seeing the end result.
Tuesday was a day of contrasts, with me being in the prison in the morning and then visiting our local MSM course in the evening. I have been invited to join the Mission and Community Engagement Department for a day a week, and some of that will involve me in helping to deliver the MSM course in the diocese. The course is held in the training suite of Bluewater, which is different, as was the journey to get there last Tuesday evening as the motorway was closed. The evening session was about teams and Jean and myself showed amazing team work as we used our knowledge of the Kent countryside to hop from village to village to find our way to our location. Well Jean shouted left right like a rally co-driver and I simply turned the wheel!
This led into the next day being a day of interesting emotions. Tom was 19 and it was his first birthday away from us, and reading his Facebook status showed us he was finding the separation as weird as we were. During the day I was chaplain at the school while in the evening we licensed Richard England as the associate priest at St Marks, which was a good experience and fairly exciting as we look together as a team to see what God might have in store for us.
Thursday saw me planning with ministers at St Mary Magdalene Church (and I just realsied you can hear sermons from the church here) before driving off to Edenbridge to meet with Sister Diane, my spiritual director. I love Sister Diane’s outlook and patience. She listens and watches me and then it feels like she draws from this eternally deep well of spirituality and flicks droplets of amazing wisdom into my life which both refresh me and cause me to see things differently.
Friday is always a prison day. I deliberately do not write much about prison work here as I am not allowed to. I find the work moves me to tears on many days. I do not know what the alternative is, or even if there is one, but I struggle with the thoughts of a society that quietly accepts the fact that we lock away children. I do see, however, total dedication from the people working here to try and make a difference in these young peoples lives.
The weekend was pretty much taken over by snow …. even in the morning service at St Marks where I was pelted with snowballs from 3 children at the end of the service. That was a pretty unique and funny experience!
In addition I have spent time in cafes and pubs talking, or rather listening to lots of coversations and answering a fair few questions. It has been quite a busy old week!
So the reason for the run down of my week (if you are still with me) is two fold. One – I’ve been suffering from bit of a block recently and all the advice is just to write … anything …. and so if you have read then you have ‘suffered’.
The other reason … as I look back across the week I see the fingerprints of God. Not one experience above has an absence of God. God is not in some of those experiences above more than God is in other experiences. Despite what some worship leaders may say, none of these experiences above have resulted in me being further away from or closer to God; I may well actually have felt further away from or close to God, but I have not actually been so. God is here, right here living within creation. As the lectionary reading from 1 Corinthians 6 reminded us this morning …. we are part of Christ, the Holy Spirit lives within us … you can’t get any closer than that!
God in the ordinary everyday ‘stuff’ of life, an ordinary intimacy with the creator of the universe …. that’s pretty good news!