Graham will post later I’m sure, but it’s me making a start on our Lent reflections today.
Today was always going to be a day set aside for reflection; I am on one of my regular days at Alton Abbey, taking the chance to soak myself in it’s quiet prayerful atmosphere, and with nothing but birdsong to fill the gaps between offices. That, and time with my spiritual companion, which isn’t quiet, but is reflective and meets the need to face the joys and tribulations of life with someone who will wisely suggest where I have not noticed God at work, or a realistic approach to some specific issue – time to be reminded that I am made in God’s image AS I AM deep down inside without layers of expectations imposed by myself or others, or in fact the system within which I train and will minister.
Isaiah 58:6-12 (todays reading in Maggi Dawn’s ‘Giving It Up’ Lent book), reminded me strongly again, of what I have missed in ordination training – the sharing of love and hope as God’s servant and on his behalf; not because it’s my job to, but because that is the way through which I most frequently experience God’s guidance, strength and ‘watering’ – his light. These things have been in short supply during ordination training, and I am apt to blame ‘the system’ and the way in which I was slotted into it as a Reader with a recent FdA in Ministry. But, realistically, though there are ways in which the system hasn’t helped, it’s not as wholly true as perhaps I would like it to be.
Interestingly though, with less than four months to ordination, even realising this, I see no point making vast changes to my pattern of life at home and college at this point, but I am really looking forward to a new pattern of life and picking up the threads of creative and social justice work in new ways in my title post (curacy). In some senses I guess ordination training, both through it’s own structures and aim, and through the way I have inhabited it, is a sort of extended Lent IF we focus on the deprivations of rich foods for which the medieval Lent that Maggi describes is known. I may not have enjoyed the ‘deprivation’ from active ministry, but (as I’ve said elsewhere before) through it I have had emphasised to me the things that are most important to my relationship with God and what it was that led to my calling to ordination.
Maggi talks about creating change in our kitchens and limiting the amount of waste that we generate. Perhaps because I’m the daughter of a chef (my mother) and a wildlife manager (think gamekeeper and you’d be reasonably close) I have always inhabited a ‘make do’ and ‘mend’ lifestyle. I think we do a pretty reasonable job of watching the state of the fridge and freezer (without which I’d be lost, domestically) using leftovers, composting and recycling.
So where in my life, or our family’s life, am I generating waste that needs to be used up and put in some sort of pre-ordination pancake? The places to look I feel should be in the realm of technology and social media, yet as others (like Revd Pam Smith in her Big Bible blog post ‘Giving Up – or Opting Out) have pointed out the relationships built through social media are important, else we’d not be blogging through Lent though a little cutting down might be in order! I could equally become a tech junky to facilitate this as integral to ministry, and the impending curacy makes the temptation strong. But tech costs money, and until I know something I don’t already have is vital, or some existing tech becomes so slow as to be obsolete, we try to measure our tech needs against the expense of generally making ends meet! So, where do you think our (or your) family waste is?