Monday, 20 February 2012

Time Flies!

Eek! Is it a whole week since I last posted? So much has been going on! Not least of these the opportunity to get to Kinnoull for a lovely wee Lenten Retreat led by Denis McBride. As I said, I felt I was running on empty, a bit, and the chance to join this retreat this week just sort of rolled into my hands. I gratefully took it! Through until Friday, lots of talk and reflection on "Jesus, a Man of Passion", and we are due to begin soon.

I regret not blogging last week, for there were some very deep 'shary' moments, not least how I was feeling after my annual Ministry Review. Once I get home I will be trying to post every day, during Lent, unless something happens this week to discourage that! I'm trying to be open- minded about where God is leading me just now. Out of the pit, hopefully!

So, into silence we go, after supper, and into a chance to meet God in new ways in the stillness. My room is overlooking the gardens and the chickens for once, rather than the car park! Might be a good omen!

Monday, 13 February 2012

Running on Empty

When the RW comments that a few days retreat might do you good, then it's a big hint that you are maybe running on empty. She's insightful this RW.

Apart from the feelings of being restless, irritable and discontent, add the feeling of fragility today, which has me phoning my sponsor/spiritual director first thing this morning.

I feel that January and February have eaten me up, emotionally, spiritually and physically, and although few have noticed the difference, (or am I kidding myself?), a good dose of silence and reflection is possibly what's needed. Fitting something like this in before Lent seems impossible though.

It's wilderness stuff, where a duvet over your head seems to be a tempting proposition.

A slight change of emphasis in my ministry has unsettled me, well, who likes change, but as someone once kept telling me, "Change you must and change you will!"

The wilderness is often part of the journey, but I know in my heart of hearts that the arrival brings joy and a peace which passes all understanding!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Victory at Last!

It is something I have coveted for so long. The Dumbarton Christian Aid Inter-Church Trophy. Last Sunday my flock was given a diatribe about the need to win this trophy. Ten and a half whole years in this parish, and they had failed to bring it home for me.  I even encouraged them to cheat sensibly if necessary! I knew for a fact that some churches tended to depend on Google in the past!

"Go and win it!", was the order! And they did! No cheating required as the wide guys weren't given enough time to go to the toilet to Google between the hard and fast questions!

Champions! At last! 16 teams from all the various churches and we won by a clear 3 points! We are going to have to build a trophy cabinet now!

A lap of honour singing "Hail the Conquering Heroes come" was required today, but three of them were off for a well deserved break.

Barbara, Tim, Margot and Toby. You have no idea of the amount of joy you put into my heart this weekend. We've beaten the Roman Catholics, the Presbies and the Evangelicals too! Stuff ecumenism! This is personal!

Saturday, 11 February 2012

The Black Dog

It's not been an easy time, of late, fighting off the Black Dog. Things are going so well, the Parish is in good shape, new initiatives are about to begin, I am a new grand-dad,  professionally I've been affirmed by peers, and yet it hangs around for no reason. The dreadfulness of depression and despair.

Most of my readers will not understand this, in fact I don't understand it myself, but there is the deep feeling of "RID". Restlessness, irritability and discontent. It often weaves a pattern throughout my soul, and I have no defence. Except, get to AA meetings which talk about Steps, and seem to have an answer, not a Christian Church answer, but a spiritual answer to these feelings and help dissipate them.

Of course the Damp-barton weather, and the dull rainy days don't help, and even the sun lamp is no use whatsoever, and I dream of being in The Gambia, or Dubai, or anywhere else I can soak up sunshine and relax, but this is where God has put me. It's actually a good place. I draw on the confidence, enthusiasm and deep faith of my little flock. And that keeps me going through the dark times, but, Lord, I need the 12 Steps too!

What a weakness in a priest. Or is it a strength?

Tuesday, 7 February 2012


And on the Sunday Next Before Advent there is a great census in the Scottish Episcopal Church. We need to start counting them. Male and Female we must count, and all the other stuff too. Returns have to be made and they are due in mid-December. Advent, when we are distracted by other thingies!

As a young priest I was very diligent, and my returns must always have been the first in. As I get older, they cease to become a priority and become a chore.

In saying this, there is no excuse! I am shamed that the Diocesan Centre has to call me in February to tell me I'm dead if my returns are not in today at 9am. I am still alive!

Why? Every year I swear that I'll do the damned counting in December. Why do I put it off, except for the fact that I'm the world's greatest procrastinator?

I just did my numbers and they were OK, but there is a fear in numbers, because they can indicate you are failing or somehow not up to the mark.

It's a very competitive thing this ministry. I know clergy who host all sorts of things on the Sunday Next Before Advent to boost their numbers. Why? Because we need to be seen to be successful? Or is it that we don't want others to see that there might be a bit of something lacking in our ministry if the church isn't full to bursting in a bad Sunday in November?

Numbers. Numbers. I blame St Luke for starting it all off. We are obsessed with numbers.

However, during my years and 30+ returns, I see a new obsession. That is gender audit. I'll be very non PC and say that I don't care much for it. We are the People of God and I don't really care if you are male or female or transsexual. You are just one of the number! The congregation are just glad you are here, male or female.

Gender obsession should have no part in our church life. We are simply all followers of the Christ, and I don't really care about your gender. Neither does Jesus.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Four Generations

A visit to see dad in the Care Home with baby Hailey was a unique opportunity for one of those photographs that will always be precious in any family album. Great-grandfather down to Great-granddaughter! (With Graham and me in the middle!)

Dad has not been good of late as his dementia worsens, and even had another wee spell in hospital last week after a fall. What I wouldn't do to have him back again as my dad as I knew him, but yesterday there were glimpses of understanding that this wee girl was part of him, and the comment that my mum would have been so proud was indeed music to my ears. He was in the here and now with some memories of the past. That's not often so these days!

Hailey just slept through it all, as she managed to do during most of yesterday's church service! Not much perturbs the new little star!