Thursday, 28 May 2015

Vicar's Sofa: All Change

'Change is a blessing and a gift disguised in work clothes'
If the last few weeks have taught me anything, then they have taught me this. It has been a whirlwind of paperwork, lengthy phone calls to broadband providers, sleepless nights over cancelled movers and patchy paintwork. It has been a total blur such that I began to realise that a huge part of my life was ending and I had hardly noticed.
The vastness of the task of moving and beginning a whole new working life had done a pretty spectacular job of disguising what this all really is, a time of change but undoubtedly a time of blessing too. Packed to the rafters with opportunity and gift.

Today I spent the afternoon holed up in bed with a magazine and managed to de-fizz enough to start to wonder about all the things around the corner. Up until now it has been hard to do that much wondering because I've felt like a bunny in headlights. Best not to stare at the oncoming car lest I get stuck in the middle of the road when I should be running (read: getting stuff done) as fast as my little legs can carry me.
But with any change there are choices. Things to leave behind and new ways to go about things. This afternoon I made a list of all the things, big and small, that I hope will be a part of this new phase of life. It's a funny old list, things like 'grow and be challenged', 'entertain friends' and 'focus on the important stuff' along with 'make tea in my pjs', 'watch a lot of bad telly' and 'grow fruits'!
What seems like an extraordinary waste of time to one person is the making of a balanced, happy life for another. I'm glad that more and more I know what keeps me sane and cheerful in the day to day as well as accepting that the search for a way of life that really means something to me is going to be challenging by default.
So now it's just about getting there, about sticking on the work clothes to navigate this change as best I can. Our house is full of boxes and I only have vague pictures in my head of what the new place will be like and some half finished furniture restoration projects on the go. But amidst all the mayhem (and sawdust!) I'm starting to think something pretty great might emerge out of this new adventure.

Watch this space!

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Vicar's Sofa: Life, Death and Everything

Last week I spent the whole week thinking about death. This possibly sounds like one of the most unappealing ways to spend your time but as in a few short months time I will be taking funerals it is something I can't avoid. What I didn't expect, however, was that a week of considering death, grief and my own mortality would somehow leave me feeling more uplifted. That it would make me see life in even greater techni-colour. That even amidst pondering the worst of all tragedy I could find that I love life that little bit more.

It has long seemed to me that death in British culture is the great taboo. It is so rarely spoken about that we almost seem to believe it ceases to exist until it stomps its way in and all over our carefully organised lives. It's almost as if we think that by not thinking or talking about it death loses its grip over us. But of course it never does. And does this denial really helps us or instead make us more fearful, less prepared, less able to live as we might want to in the now?
Part of what I took from the week was a sense of acceptance. That doesn't mean that I'm not going to shed a thousand tears for all the funerals I will take and want to make death disappear with every fibre of my being. Just that I realize it does happen and it will happen, to me one day too. And that sense, that life has a beginning, a middle and an end has cast a new light on right now. It has made me see life again as a script to be written, one that will have a final scene, my blank canvas to paint my own picture on.
It puts the day to day nonsense in perspective, it makes other fears seem like small fry. It makes me want to be bold and grab life like a piggy bank I want to shake clean of every coin within it. It makes me think that despite the potential loses of loving others, and even the potential loses that come with creating new life, that it is worth it. It makes me think of the words of the John's gospel that 'the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not over come it'.
And it has made me think 'What next?' What will happen when one day I close my eyes never to open them again in this life? That is a question for us all as individuals and no one can supply us with an answer. Each one of us knows what we hope for, what we believe in, deep down in our hearts.

For me, at the end of it all I, quite naturally for a Vicar to be I suppose, see God. I see all the things that make me love life coming at me like surround sound. I see love winning. I see a brand new day that doesn't end. I see it a bit like Lewis Carroll in his Easter Greeting at the end of Alice in Wonderland,

'Do you know that deliciously dreamy feeling when one first wakes on a summer morning, with the twitter of birds in the air and the fresh breeze coming in at the open window – when, lying lazily with eyes half shut, one sees as in a dream green boughs waving or waters rippling in a golden light.?...To rise and forget, in the bright sunlight, the ugly dreams that frightened you when all was dark – to rise and enjoy another happy day'.