As the final months of my curacy approach, it is very like being right back at the start of the discernment process…
I’ve come a long way, and worn through a few pairs of shoes, and once again it is time to try and discover where God may be calling me to live and serve and learn next. Who knows, you may even be a potential parishioner!
I’ve been having conversations with people in the parish, about my strengths and weaknesses, and about where God may call me and my family. And a fairly simple pattern seems to be emerging: I am an encourager – I am hopeful and joyful in my faith and that is infectious; I am a good communicator; and I engage easily and naturally with people on the margins of church and social life.
I sort of hoped for a very specific set of strengths and weaknesses that might draw me tidily into a particular ministry, but the fact is I’m just a person who loves God and loves People, and loves to provide a safe space where people can begin to explore their relationship with God and grow in confidence in living out that relationship in their wider lives: basically I reckon I’m a general ‘parish priest’ type. No unusual specialisms, no preference for an age range or locality, just a pretty good ‘all-rounder’.
Which is no use to me as I try to work out what exactly to do next!
Oh for a nice clear vision of ‘the man from Macedonia’ (Acts 16:9) calling out for help.
Well actually I have had a dream in the last couple of weeks – one of those sort of dreams I have to take a bit more notice of: I was in a flat – I think I had offered to kind of babysit or keep an eye on some youngsters – and more and more children and babies were dropped off at this flat – all under the age of about 14 – and many with parents only just in their twenties till the flat was full. So these young parents were dropping their kids off at this flat and heading out for an evening of social activity – and I somehow was left very faintly in charge, though largely ignored. And as the sun set, this band of children just started to sing, led by the eldest children – it was like a hymn, like a tradition, kind of liturgical but so vague and emotional that it seemed totally agnostic, an unknowing hymn… and they sang with a lot of emotion – But all the words they sang were simply, ‘Where is he? Where is he? Where is she? Where is she?’
It was so intense and sort of sad that my heart burned within me and I thought – ‘They don’t know! They don’t know who to sing to!’
… I suppose I could use that as a starting place…
But as far as the ‘dream’ location went – all I could gauge was that it was a built up area with a lot of young families and not much childcare! Which could be all sorts of places. It certainly didn’t have a name neatly built into the dream to clarify.
Still , for discernment, that’s as good a place to start as any, and a lot better than starting with clerical ambitions or desires for fancy housing I reckon. Speak up please God – give me a few more directions!