Today, in the park, after school with my children, I received a complaint – frightfully polite, and very good-natured; but a complaint nonetheless – that it had been over a week since I had posted on my blog. Heaven forbid that I should fail to entertain my (numerically small but demanding) readership!
Elijah took his first steps on Saturday. Woo-hoo! And today, he had his first haircut – the Mohican has been scalped…for now.
I finished working as a disability support worker last Thursday evening; came home, ate my tea, and went out again to meet up with some other members of The Order of Mission – by which time it had completely escaped my mind that I’d just left my job of sixteen months. I don’t think it was a Senior Moment; or that I didn’t care about those I had been supporting; but that it was so very definitely time to move on. Job done. I’m sure that I will take with me transferable experience, but you can only do a role you are doing for meaningful experience, rather than out of your heart’s desire, for so long. I feel like Joseph, released from prison and being made respectable to appear before Pharaoh, his future held in the balance…
I have four more lunchtimes left at school, and then I will be done there too. And that has been a team that I will miss working with: it has been a lot of fun. I know that my working for the school has made a positive difference – not least because there is only one male member of staff, the estates manager – and been appreciated by the people I have been working with. That counts for a lot. The extent of interest in our plans, by staff and by parents in the playground alike, has been touching.
Over the past year-and-a-half I have done low-paid, low-skilled, jobs; almost entirely alongside women; including work with and for people with little education, (seemingly) limited prospects, few aspirations, near horizons. It has been a cross-cultural learning experience. If they do allow this highly-educated middle-class boy to serve as a priest here in South Yorkshire, it will prove invaluable; though I may not always have realised that at the time.
A week today I will be at my Bishops’ Advisory Panel. On the basis of how I fare in a range of exercises over two-and-a-half days; alongside a raft of paperwork submitted by myself, my referees, and the Diocese in advance; a panel of four men and women will decide whether or not to recommend me for ordination. And by early August, we will finally have a decision…
We’d hoped to be at this stage some months ago – while I passionately believe this is God’s call on my life, I can’t presume that the panel will agree; and we’d hoped to have time to find something longer-term by September if they say ‘no’ – but it didn’t work out that way in the end. In the end, it worked out that I’d be at selection conference while the rest of the family were at New Wine North (indeed, I’ll be there each side of my panel), with Jo surrounded by friends (including, it would seem, the parents of half the children I’ve looked after at school this year). So we’ll take that.
Hard though the process has been, we’ve been able to see God’s hand in it; had glimpses of him working behind the scenes in ways we wouldn’t have expected. One of those ways has been in the provision of school places for Susannah (going into Y2) and Noah (going into Reception) in a school in Nottingham – I hope to be studying at St John’s, Nottingham; we hope to move there in August – as well as in the Sheffield school where Susannah is currently in Y1.
Noah has three more days left at nursery, and then, after the summer, he’ll be a schoolboy. He is so ready; really looking forward to that…Susannah is preparing to leave her school behind. I think that will be hard, but at the same time, she’s really looking forward to the new school. Perhaps this is the hardest thing: that we can’t say it is definitely This or it is definitely That – and so we need to be saying goodbye without quite having the freedom to say a Proper goodbye…
the curious journey of a would be ordinand