So it’s that time of year again when the new school uniform photos are posted on Facebook, the pencil cases are out, and while I’m happy the kids will be back at school, it’s always sad to see them go when we’ve got used to them being around. It seems like they grow up so fast. I’ll be back at college too this year, welcoming new students to vicar school at St Hild.
I’ve been mulling over some thoughts during the summer as I’ve had a break from all my study and work. It seems to me that like other things, my spirituality gets a bit flabby when I take a break from the things that normally sustain me. It’s not that I’m any more spiritual than anyone else, it’s just that as a vicar in training I am at boot camp. I am not naturally fit, I need to make myself exercise if I am to be able to eat cake and not put on weight. I am not naturally like Jesus, left to my own devices I become more self-absorbed, less patient and prone to self-indulgence and self-pity.
Spiritual boot-camp has it’s down sides, as whoever you are, and whatever you are doing in life, God always has more he can show you and it’s not always enjoyable. Indeed as one of our lecturers calls it, it can be an ‘uncomfortable stretch”, or running through muddy fields with packs on, metaphorically speaking. Of course vicars don’t do much hard labour, but we do alot of praying, alot of reflection, alot of reading, listening, mediating, and leading. In order to be able to do that, we have to be prepared to listen to God and act on his advice as priority number one. This year that’s meant facing up to areas of my life I’m less interested in thinking about, like being a good wife!
Like keeping fit, doing housework, even writing, habits and day to day routines sustain me more than I like to admit. I’m used to being busy but my new life has a new rhythm and pattern that’s taken some adjustment. I wish I could say I’ve therefore developed a regular devotional life that is robust, and set in stone but it wouldn’t be true. I have learnt like many other things I’m juggling, that I have to take my opportunities as they arise and like many mums, a spot of multi-tasking doesn’t go amiss.
When I can take a day out on retreat I go, I listen to uplifting music, and when I can get to morning prayer I go, I pray for my husband whilst we are arguing, I pray on the treadmill, I read the daily office, I pray before I go to sleep, but at least I’m praying.
I expect you will have a list of things you’d like to have more time to do, and this September along with the new TV schedule you’ll be booking in new things and meeting new people. Just don’t forget that god will use the time you do have, rather than the time you don’t. He’s more interested in your availability than your ability. So even praying …. “I don’t know what to ask for God but can you do something about my (xxxx) ” is a good way to start. It doesn’t matter if you pray in church, or in the shower. It’s all the same.
I’ve been working with some ladies recently who’ve really inspired me. They all have physical health problems but they show up week after week to try and reach out to the local community. Just getting to the coffee morning is an uncomfortable stretch but they do it out of a desire to be available, and able to join in and help. The link below is to a gospel song I learnt once, and it was apparently written by someone who’d just suffered a stroke.
So let’s make some space, delete some apps and give ourselves some spare storage to use for God this term..