A letter to self.
During spiritual direction recently, I was asked to think about this. If I knew then (28 years ago) what I know now, would I still be ordained a priest? Not a question to be answered in a minute, but a reflection for the next few months! The answer fluctuates from week to week! I read this passage from the book of Proverbs, (I do love the psalms and the wisdom literature of the old testament)
take to heart my commands;
and peace, will they bring you.
bind them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
before God and human beings.
on your own intelligence do not rely;
and he will make straight your paths.
fear the L and turn away from evil
Such a beautiful passage that encourages “write love and fidelity on the tablet of your heart!” any question posed in prayer finds expression in scripture, and as for an answer, it comes in time and not always the one that first pops into the mind.
The month of September has introduced itself. It is a strange time. A disconcerting time too. 18 months ago, a pastoral plan was introduced. I sat at a meeting in Oscott, to witness the beginning of a something called “Consultation to Consensus”. The main focus seemed to be how do you feel? (please don’t ask me how I feel) Then a collecting of all the answers given and feeding back to deanery and then forwarding to Curia and then….I don’t really know, the plan became a vison and then not much really. Same old same old! Appointments were made, a shuffling of bodies from parish to parish, levies were raised, a couple of parish partnerships evolved, it seemed like a sticky plaster was applied here and there. Priests continue to get older, parishioners do the same. There are priests who have retired, some have died, others have stepped back from ministry, (don’t forget to respect their privacy.) All has seemed to slow down on the plan front, and then Covid-19 came along.
A question popular in my youth was where do you see yourself in five years? Now, I think in months, not years. Where have the last five months gone and what of the next five months? What on earth am I going to do at Christmas? How are we going to communicate with a once a year congregation who turn up at Christmas for Carols and family tradition? Will they still come now there is Covid-19 in the mix? I just don’t know! Before Covid-19 there was not a surge for places on the pews, and during the time of return, the numbers are not up by any means. Those on the edges of the parish are in no hurry to return. Someone very recently enquired about the availability of the church for a Christening (a baptism) because this was their church and their family had everything done here over the years, baptisms, school, weddings funerals, they dd not know my name, I have only been here five years…no participation in parish life for at least five years then! Maybe it is their parish, but not taking part in parish life for years may well mean that in time, they will lose that parish, for it, like any parish, will close if not supported.
Where is the future heading…Proverbs says “trust in the Lord with all your heart” and I think that is the most sound advice.
Have a lovely September!
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