Callings

On this third anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood in the Anglican Church, I have been reflecting on the many calls within this rather particular Call. A prayer that was deeply meaningful to me in the earliest days of my discernment, has stayed with me, and been much on my mind of late. Found within the pages of a booklet given to prospective ordinands and written by Roger Spillar, it sketches out this multistranded, many layered call. Naming a few of the strands, Roger’s word pictures  spoke volumes to me then, and continue to do so.

So many facets within one vocation, so many different ways of expressing that call. Thankfully God doesn’t have a box marked ‘priest‘ he expects us all to fit. Fear of this potential box underlay much of my gargantuan struggle with God in the earliest days of my call towards ordination.  The church down the centuries has had many a priest shaped box, sometimes even ordaining people as priests and bishops against their will.. But God I was to discover, wanted me to be me. The me, he had created and shaped.

I could write reams on this, but today I will simply keep to the prayer.


Lord, you call us to be story- tellers

Planting your explosive news into our defended lives;

Locating us in the script of your human history.

 

 


You call us to be trail blazers

Living in your future that we receive only as a gift;

Subverting the fixed, fated world of low horizons.

 

 

 


You call us to be weavers

Tracing, stretching, connecting the knotted threads;

Gathering up unraveling, disconnected lives.

 

 

 


You call us to be fools

For Christ’s sake: bearing life’s absurdities and  incongruities;

Puncturing our seriousness and grandiosity.

 

 

 


You call us to be hosts;

Welcomers of the sacred, intimate, transfiguring;

Lavish celebrants of our communities and homecomings.

 

 

 


You call us to be poets;

Artists and illuminators of inner space


Naming, invoking, heralding your ineffable presence.

 

 

 


You call us to be gardeners;

Sowers, cultivators and nurturers of fragile lives;

Benefactors of your gratuitous harvest.

 

 

 


You call us to be conductors

Celebrating polyphony, coaxing symphony;

Orchestrating the praise of your inhabited creation.

 

 

 


Lord, you lavish gifts on all whom you call

Strengthen and sustain us and all ministers of your church

That in the range and diversity of our vocation

We maybe catalysts of your Kingdom in the world.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Amen. Amen.

Where is your home?

Where do you come from?

It is a question I have never known the answer to –  does it mean where I was born?  (Africa)  My national identity ? Where I live now?  I am the child of Scottish and Welsh parents, and thought I was British. Turns out I wasn’t. I travelled on a British passport til I was 18, and then discovered that apparently I had never been entitled to it.   (complications of being born in Rhodesia, as Zimbabwe was then. It subsequently became a non recognised state, and my status was further complicated by my father having been born in India) I had to apply to be a British Subject with an application in the newspaper;  (do you know of any reason this person cannot be thus honoured?) only gaining my full citizenship when I married a few years later.

Where do you live? Well although my latter life has been more static, I have moved house 22 times, and lived in 4 countries and 3 continents. I have been a refugee from  national turbulence and war, on at least 3 or 4 occasions, leaving at short notice.  This somewhat nomadic childhood could have been unsettling, but wasn’t. It gave me a world view, and enhanced my flexibility in pretty well everything. It made me multilingual, not in the conventional sense, ( I was in the back of the queue when the usual skills for that were handed out – French. German, Latin. I tried. (And failed.) ) but perhaps in just as useful a way.  It gave me a wanderlust, and I have been a globe trotter ever since, hungry to see more of this beautiful planet.

Home is where you hang your heart’ was the message I received, and made my own. In other words, where ever you are. Bloom where you are planted, whatever the soil or the terrain.  I don’t know ‘where I am from’  or really where my earthly ‘home’ is, but it doesn’t bother me unduly. It has dawned on me that I have always been a pilgrim/nomad. I live without borders, or rather I move easily between borders of many kinds, with little or no sense of needing to stay within them. Sometimes I don’t even notice they are there.  This can be tricky if there are ‘border guards’ who aren’t happy with you leaving / or coming in, for that matter. If you have a passport stamp from one ‘country’  it can make  getting into another which doesn’t see eye to eye with their neighbours, less than comfortable. It can be painful too- being at home in each, and yet they at war with each other.  I by-pass both the borders, and the stamps, where I can, and try not to get caught in cross fire.

Now I find myself at theological college.  ( After a gargantuan struggle with God over this calling to priesthood business. That was largely about boxes. “Don’t put me in a box God! Especially an Anglican Vicar shaped one!” …mmm.. beginning to see deeper layers still, in that struggle )  A college that prides itself on defying labels and celebrating diversity.  Learning within the richness of a Federation, that spans even wider theological territories.  Having worshipped and ministered in a whole variety of contexts and churchmanships , I  can’t really say I have a spiritual home either. I move very naturally up and down  ‘the candle, and have good  friends whose homes are at both ends, and all places in between.  Being in a college that lets me wander, and doesn’t try to tie me down, is a gift to a person like me. The  diversity of the many ‘homes’ I visit, enriches and enlarges me.

Don’t fence me in” I don’t think I am a rootless cowboy, as the song goes, but I am slowly realising just how strong a theme this has been in my life. Living without borders, and moving easily between all sorts of strata, and perimeters, is very much part of who I am. We are all pilgrims in one sense or other….( mixing up my metaphors)  but we are not all called to be nomads. It seems I am, and I can run with that.

My real home, I guess is a Heavenly one, and my citizenship that matters most to me, is also there.  ‘Til then I am happy to continue being a nomad.  Pitching my tent wherever God takes me.