Monday, July 16, 2012

a year on

A year ago today saw my final Sunday at St Catherine's.

Frankly, it seems a very long time ago.

I've often been asked if I miss my life there. The answer is 'no'. I do miss a lot of people, whom I think of often, and I do miss some of the things I used to do, and it's great to preach occasionally in Calverley.

But I don't miss the whole package.

I was clear when I went into it that it was what I should be doing, and I was clear when I walked away 12 months ago, that it was what I should be doing. Life is about change and moving forwards and growing and (for a Christian) being obedient and serving God and people. You don't have to be in paid ministry to do that stuff!

There are no crystal balls; we make decisions and sometimes we get things wrong. In which case we should acknowledge what we've done and have another go. But in moving from Pontypridd, I got it right. The job's a challenge, and I love a challenge. I'm learning constantly in all kinds of ways, and I'm enjoying that process. My pride takes all kinds of knocks, and I smile at myself and get on with it.

Then I go home, relax, and rest till the next day.

Of course, there have been challenges.

Most of these have been about family illnesses and being concerned with what has been happening to people I care about. I've had a bit of bad health myself. And, of course, losing Matt affects every day. There's a piece in today's Telegraph by Ben Fogle about losing his dog, and I know what he means. Matt's companionship and friendship was a foundational reality in my life. Far more so than my old job title or the social standing or community leadership that went with that role.

Last year on this Sunday I looked out at the crowd before me and saw some of the faces that were not there: I wrote of Dan & Kirsty Jones. Today I am with them, and Flo & Sam, in their Dordogne home. We've been speaking of change & identity.

The things that make me who I am remain; desires to love God & people, and a certain fallibility at both; a passion for music; a need to communicate in written & spoken word; an enjoyment of performance arts, sports & good food, passively and actively, with varying degrees of relative success; insecurities about my height, my weight, my hair-loss... Changing my job, my home, my situation, my challenges freshens everything up. It reminds me what really matters. Who I am. Even, just a bit, why I am.

A year on, I miss people I left behind. I occasionally think of the work back there in terms of the ways I could be serving, but I am reminded that my solutions had a sell-by date attached, and I am thrilled that Peter is in place to take a community forwards in ways beyond my gift set. I am working on my gift set.

And I don't know what the long term is, but I am grateful to be where I am (and I mean Leeds, rather than this current, splendid holiday weekend with la Famille Jones, for which gratitude is insufficient a word) and, with the qualification of the sadness of Matt, to be enjoying the moment.

As for what is to come... As I said. There are no crystal balls. But I have a smile on my face, hope in my heart, and curiosity abundant. That's a fair deal, I should say.

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