Simplicity.

This week has been alot of ‘sorting stuff out’.  I had to send in my proposal for my independent learning project this week, and I’ve been sorting out my attachment church. In both cases I am lucky enough to have supervisors who are much wiser and more brilliant then I am. So I’ve been thanking God alot for them this week. (Especially when they buy the coffee!)

I hung out with my sister one afternoon this week and we went to a Frozen Yoghurt place. If you’ve never been to one I can highly recommend it! Think of it like a more interesting version of a Pizza Hut ‘Ice Cream Factory’. All of the Frozen Yoghurt are flavoured and there is so many toppings to be able to customise your yoghurt. I’m still very much enjoying autumn and so mine was autumn themed with pumpkin pie frozen yoghurt and peanut brownies on top. Yum! On the side of the cups there was John 3:16 printed. I know of only a few companies that employ this subtle form of spreading Gods word, Forever 21 uses the same verse on their shopping bags.

I wonder how effective these are for evangelism, but its nice to think that there are people out there who are using their company as a way to evangelise to people.

We were lucky enough this week to have a visit from Rowan Williams who gave a lecture on the importance of Church History and it importance for today. He spoke alot about how in the past the church has let itself get in the way of progress. Of course the Church will never be perfect because people are fallible, but he made a good point about anger. He said that whenever we feel angry about something to do with church we need to ask ourselves ‘Who does this anger serve?’. (If only we all did that a little more often how different the church would be!)

Oddly, I think it was quite a pertinent talk for me at the time. I’m still trying to work out this whole community living thing. When you get a large group of people together all in one space who spend so much time together, occasionally people will inevitably grate on you. (Which I’m sure most ordinands would agree with!) The idea is kind of the same idea as ‘counting to 10’ before you speak. To just have a moment to internalise what’s really going on before you blurt out some words that you don’t really mean can save such alot of undue hurt. There will always be times in which we don’t quite manage to make it to 6 before the words just leave our mouths, and then our task is to act humbly and admit when we have been hasty in our response. It is up to us to be able to stay quietly open in order for our conversations to be fruitful. 

Simple actions seem to have been a big theme of this week. Whether it is the random bible verse placed in somewhere unusual, or counting 10 and giving space in a conversation. I was very blessed to receive a care package from one of my best friends who also happens to be an ordinand. Just a simple and beautiful reminder of our friendship and how she is thinking of me.

These things all need no real explanation or trumpet fanfare. Its the simple things that really make a difference. We had incense at community compline this week which for me makes it into a beautiful space of prayer. The simple lighting and the fragrance of the incense really bring me into the presence of God, for me it becomes my ‘thin place’. We can get into the habit of making God too complicated. But by being simply quiet, giving and evangelistic we can bring ourselves into a closer relationship with God.

Peace and Joy.

The gift of uncertainty.

I have always loved autumn. Its my favourite season because of all the change and colour that it brings. And also because I like pumpkins and being able to drink Chai tea without feeling strange. Autumn in Cambridge feels different somehow, and I’m trying to make the most of it by walking lots while its not raining. On one of my evening walks I took my camera and tried to get some nice autumnal pictures. Sadly the light wasn’t all that good, because the sun was setting and it was cloudy. But I did meet some swans and took this photo.

Its been a bit of a mixed week, and I think on some level I’m still trying to balance everything that being an ordinand forces you to balance.

I’ve been so thankful for those people within the community who’ve been looking out for me. Taking the time out to just go for coffee with the ‘bros’ has been really helpful in keeping me grounded and feeling somewhat normal.

Its also helpful to have my own time again. I feel like I lost a bit of my love for journalling and creativity for the first few weeks, but hopefully now it is making a return. I’m finding that bible verses will just stick with me all week.

On Wednesday evening Rev Ally preached a fab little homily about the gift of uncertainty. She said that like children who are waiting for the teacher to return to the classroom, so are we anticipating the coming of Christ. That if we had any clue as to when Jesus was coming again we would probably be lazy right up until the last minute when we would act like we had been faithful disciples the whole time. But thankfully we dont know, which allows us to be constantly anticipating the moment when the teacher will come back into the room. That is hopefully some encouragement to continually try to be ready for the day when Jesus will come again.

Like with most things in life, its better to have a rough idea rather then to have expectations down to every last detail. I certainly feel like that is what happens with my creative work anyway. If I try to plan it all out it never goes the way that I want it to, and so usually it is better to just have a rough idea of what you want the outcome to be. Trust that God will make it all good in the end, and then the details wont really matter.

Peace and Joy.

Managing time and differences.


Now that college has got into the full swing, I finally feel like I can catch my breath. I also feel that I am very much a vicar in training in Cambridge now that I have my own bicycle (called Bluebell) and a large amount of gin.  Once a normal routine of offices and lectures gets into your system everything seems to become a bit normal.

The routine of prayer is so embedded into the rhythm of life here at college that on the weekends, when there isn’t any it feels strange.  I always thought that attending the offices would be one of the most difficult part of college life.  When I Snapchat-1609317031121517226was a pastoral assistant we had a expectation to attend morning and evening prayer, and it was quite difficult. Not because I disliked the prayer, but I am just generally not a morning person, and anyone who has lived with me will be able to confirm that. However to my own surprise (and probably many others) I am actually really enjoying the early mornings.

I’ve also been to a few Complines this week, which has been rather enjoyable. I’ve prayed using all kinds of different ‘offices’ before, and the way the offices are done at Westcott has a certain weird and wonderful charm. On your first day in chapel, you look at the hymn board and think ‘How does this even work?’. But once you understand what NEH and all the other acronyms are then it really does grow on you. The really comforting thing is that every place that uses CW Daily Prayer will be saying the exact same thing, but using it in different ways. Such is the nature of the church that we are able to all share in the joy of morning prayer in our own preferred way.

The bit that has felt the strangest so far is the weekends. After about 4pm on Friday college just gradually becomes and more silent. Which if you’ve had a bit of a suffocating week then some quiet time within The House can be much needed. Most of my spare time has been filled with various combinations of drinks and board games. I met with my Dungeons and Dragons group last Friday night to begin planning our adventures. And then on Saturday I met with our larger group of friends to play board games. I am so incredibly thankful that I have a group of people to play board games with so that I don’t lose that part of me. When I was a Pastoral Assistant with only one day off a week, finding the right way to use that time off became essential. So luckily I already have the skills built up from my time in London.
In fact after worship on Tuesday evening I managed to get across town to go bowling with some of my old work colleagues, and then make it all the way back in time for Compline. Now that is a good use of time!

Looking back in some of my journals this week, I was caught again by this quote from St Catherine of Siena.
‘Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.’

Sometimes it can feel as if to be a servant for God we have to fit into a particular mould. But actually it is quite the opposite. The times when I notice I am flourishing are the times when I am trying not to fit into a mould, but just be myself. That is probably one of the biggest things about being thrown into a community is that you are mixed in with people who all do things in a very different way to you. But we are all given our own gifts and if we are to grow with God then we have to embrace all that we are.

I am comforted by the fact that God will continue to work in me as long as I am true to Him and true to myself. Even when those times when the rhythm of daily prayer seems like a struggle to just be present in the sight of God is more when a thousand words could say.

It also ties in wonderfully with the thinking of St Teresa of Avila whose feast day was this week.

It is only by embracing our differences that we can really begin to act as the fullness of the Church. If we are true to ourselves and how God is working in us, and if we can accept that in others too- then we will truly be Christs hands and feet.

Peace and Joy.

All shall be well.

I have never experienced tiredness quite like this. One week of college and I am exhausted.
To be fair I think that the first week is always going to be a tough one, and I can honestly say that I have been through every emotion this week.

Moving in was slightly stressful as all ‘movings’ are. Putting everything into boxes without really knowing the space you’ll have on the other side is quite daunting. But I was quite eager to get going and move into my new room. Having had a wonderful card from my tutor, I knew that there would be people ‘expecting me’ almost. Thankfully there were lots of other wonderful returning ordinands who helped me and my Dad unpack. I was also very pleasantly surprised to find someone I knew from my Pastoral Assistancy who was also starting at Westcott in the same block as me. On that first morning when we got up, I saw a post from her on social media about how daunting that ‘first day’ felt. I replied with a ‘me too’ and seeking encouragement from each other, she reminded me of a quote from Julian Of Norwich.  “All shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

The first few days are a bit of a blur. It was weird getting into a new rhythm of prayer. I’ve been used to daily offices, but never saying them with a large group of people. It makes you so mindful of how loud people talk, which is especially prominent at 7:30am. There was a rather nice Eucharist for St Michael and All Angels. I’m thoroughly appreciating the Eucharist as a anchoring point for all that is happening. Its also nice to have a varied and diverse tutor group. On Wednesday mornings we have a tutor group breakfast where we chat and prayer together. Because we are al from different courses and family situations it is nice to sit and chat with people that I never normally would. There is a real sense of community around here which is refreshing and comforting.  Although there have been a few incidences where I have needed to escape so that I could ‘do something normal’ (Which usually involved buying things) having people around all the time has been really useful for me.  We were talking this morning about how induction week was, and although it was busy it is almost the best way to get into it. Sometimes you do just have to grit your teeth and throw yourself in. Which is pretty much what happens.

At the end of the week we had a quiet day, which was much needed. I rather enjoy eating meals in silence and it was a good chance for reflection at the end of a hectic week. It was also refreshing to explore my spirituality creatively again. Thankfully there is an arts supplies store in the next street and I brought myself some new brushes and watercolours and just enjoyed being in Gods presence. I do have to say that with everything that goes on in induction week that it can be hard to find that connection with God. You spend most of the first week just figuring out what book to use and when and prayer can be a little difficult. As I say though, you do just have to grit your teeth and know that everything will begin to make sense in the end.

My favourite things however have been the common room activities. On Sunday night we watched Sister Act which is of course an Ordinands favourite. I sat and continued to knit my current prayer blanket, which of course I got loads of questions about. It was just good for my soul and good for my sanity.

Its almost too easy to forget sometimes that we are here to be formed for ministry. For me at least, the nature of getting to grips with the place and the rhythm of life here made me lose sight of what I am actually here for. It is at these times that God speaks to me through music. This particularly wonderful hymn has been with me all week since it came up, and I think it just sums up everything that has been this week.

Looking forward, as I begin to really settle into life at Theological College. I know that as long as I can remember my calling, and pray earnestly for the Spirit to help to continually stir up my gifts  that all shall be well.

Hopefully there shall be frequent reflections and musings of life at Theological College, so stay tuned!

Peace and Joy.

Preparations, preaching and patisserie.

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Currently it is 3 days before I make the small but important journey to Cambridge to begin my life as a ordinand properly.

I’m not quite sure what Im feeling really. Tomorrow is my last day at work and so there are lots of emotions tied up to leaving the children and colleagues I have met over the past year. It has made such an impact on me and I think I’ve learned a lot about how I want my ministry to develop. Even in a secular environment it has been so fulfilling for my ministry and it has helped me to grow.

Last Sunday I went back to London to preach at the church I used to work at.  It was such a good weekend to go back and so many people gave me their well wishes and prayers. I really needed it.

It was mostly weird to be back in the habit of trying to write a sermon. I have to say it wasn’t one of my best, and I was mostly unprepared. But it felt good to be back in the pulpit (despite being stared at by a baptism party of 100)

I suppose it just reminds me of everything I am about to take on. I’d love to end up in a church like this one day. Weirdly one of the somewhat modern churches that I actually like. The ceilings especially. It also just reminded me of what a fantastic church family I have, and how even though I am not back very often that I am always welcomed. The church has moved somewhat and there has been lots of new life. Luckily I got cuddles with new babies and all the children have grown so much since I’ve been gone. But going back there always feels like going home, and I am so thankful for that.

I spent the Saturday catching up with a good friend of mine and wandering around Camdan market. Oddly enough I know lots of people who happen to be starting theological college this year too, and its been good to have those people around.

So I took my friend to lunch and then we walked around the market. Knowing Camden quite well I was able to navigate us to the best possible place for dessert. The most magnificent doughnut stall near the stables market was a perfect place for us to pick up a treat and talk about all things ordinand.

Also it just made me think about how important it is to keep up these things whilst in training and beyond. I need my friends, I need normal things and of course I need giant doughnuts.

Peace and Joy.

Note: This was posted late, because of how busy I’ve been.