Growing OLD is inevitable,
growing UP is optional
(or so says a birthday card I received... I think it's right! :-)
A season of preparation, beginning on the fourth Sunday before
Christmas, in which the church recalls its hope and
expectation in the coming of Christ, past, present and future.
This is a great description, and certainly, as I participated in the life of the congregations at Newnham and Lilydale during the season of Advent (in preaching, leading worship and other things), I worked hard to encourage people to do this; set aside time to reflect on how Jesus comes to us, again, and again and again...
However, it occurred to me as I was going to bed at around 2:30am on Christmas morning, after a midnight Christmas Eve service (the third service for the day), and anticipated getting up early to lead an 8:30am Christmas morning service, that as ministers (or 'trainee ministers'), at Christmas, one of the most significant times of the Christian calendar, (which also tends to be one of the busiest times of the church year), there is little time for us to actually do what we are encouraging our congregation members to do, that is, to draw aside from the busyness of life and reflect on the wonder of the coming of Christ.
I see this as a tad ironic, but am unsure what, if anything, can be done to change it. At theological college we have the importance of 'self care' drummed into us, as ministry is hard work, and emotionally demanding, and so it's important for us to learn to draw appropriate boundaries, have outside interests and take time off to refresh and recreate, so that we don't burn out. However, at times like Christmas and Easter, it is necessary for us to be on deck and working hard to serve those to whom we minister. My supervisor commented to me that Christmas is a time when we can't always be as creative as we would like to be, as there is just so much to do (with extra worship services and other seasonal activities) that there often just isn't time to create something out of nothing for every occasion. The "don't reinvent the wheel" policy was used to great effect in the fact that I got to deliver my Christmas Homily 4 times (at two different Carols services, at a chapel service in an aged care facility and in a special service in a dementia unit)- each time slightly modified to fit the congregation, but essentially the same base message.
Perhaps this is one of the sacrifices that is necessary in this line of work and ministry (and allowable, as opposed to the more general, unhealthy workaholic tendencies that the college is trying to train out of us), and it may be that as I move into life as a minister, I may need to get used to having a personal 'belated Christmas' when I do actually get a chance to sit down and stop and reflect.
Not that I'm excited about heading to Tassie or anything... but... :-)Today I farewelled the last of my house guests (who were so good that they even cleaned my house for me whilst I cooked dinner for another friend who was coming that night- although they did get to enjoy the leftovers of the dessert, which I think they enjoyed :-)
My first year as a candidate is over!
Fri 3rd Nov:
It’s Friday afternoon. The last Friday of the academic year. As I sit with my fellow-first year candidates in our final peer formation group for the year, there’s a sense of grief as we look at each other around the table.
“Well, that’s it then: the end of our first year.”
As we reflect on the year, and offer it to God, we are all struck by how quickly this year has passed.
It really has been sobering to see how quickly this year has passed. It worries me that the rest of my candidature will go screaming past just as quickly, and I will get to the end of my training, feeling as if I have only just started, and still have SO MUCH to learn. (Although, I suppose this would be a good attitude to have, going into my first placement as a ministry intern, as no matter how much study I do, or experience I get, there will always be much more to learn).
Last night we celebrated the College Valedictory service and dinner, where we formally farewelled the candidates who have completed this part of their ministerial training and are about to go (or have recently gone) into a ministry internship placement, or other area of service or further study. It was a special time, and also a bit sobering as those of us remaining realised that will be US being farewelled very soon!
It's not just about the academic study
I have been truly blessed since arriving here, to not only have the chance to catch up with existing friends in Melbourne, but also to have made many new friends, among the candidates and faculty of the UCA theological college, and also with a number of other students from my various classes. I have formed a number of close friendships which feel like they will last long past our days at College.
I remember a comment made to me by a couple of friends in Hobart, when I was accepted as a ministry candidate. They said that the church needed more ministers like me, who were "real". I understand what they meant by that comment, and why they said it, but have to say that as I look around me at the faculty and fellow candidates in the theological college (and also at the candidates for ordination in the Anglican and Jesuit colleges) I am certainly not the only person who is "real". There is a wide variety of personalities (and the faculty especially are all mad as cut snakes- and I love that! :-), and people all bring stuff from their pasts that have helped to form them; and even things they are going through now- I have really learned a lot about faith and grace amid suffering from some of my fellow candidates. I can only hope that when life gets tough for me, I can face it with comparable integrity and guts.
I am also active in the UCA Theological Students’ association, and was elected Secretary for 2007, and have also been the Uniting Church candidates’ rep to the wider students’ association for the UFT (which also incorporates the Trinity Anglican, and Jesuit Theological Colleges).
During the year I have also been working with a Spiritual Director, which has been great, and (among other things) he has helped me to identify the source of some of the excitement for me- it’s in the fact that my studies are enabling me to engage my intellect with my faith in a profound and new way. That’s why I think the Groundwork in Theology unit was my favourite subject- it really gave my brain a workout and made me look at some of the aspects of my faith that I had taken for granted in a new light. My SD has also helped me to work on developing a deeper intimacy with God, through different ways of praying, and he has also helped me to recognise and celebrate the "God moments" in the everyday stuff of life. I'm looking forward to continuing my work with him next year.
Woo-hoo! bring on the dancing tenors! :-)There are still a couple of smaller pieces of work for my Friday Program course which I need to hand in on Monday, but by comparison it will be a pleasure to finish them off over the weekend, as today's essay had really been a bit of a monkey on my back, so I'm exceptionally relieved to get it out of the way.
(This is the première of Martin's new song cycle, which was composed particularly for Matthew, and is a setting of five poems by George Herbert around the themes of Easter.)
Anne is an incredibly talented pianist, and was amazing.
... with a younger man!Quite significantly younger, in fact... Nafatali Christiaan Brown-Nafatali came into the world on Friday 27th October, so that makes him all of 10 days old (give or take a few hours). He is the newest resident of Bucknall Court, the theological college community of units where I live (and is the 5th child of one of my fellow ministerial candidate, Samasoni, and his wife Epa).
Well, we'll see about that!
|You Belong in Dublin|
Friendly and down to earth, you want to enjoy Europe without snobbery or pretensions.
You're the perfect person to go wild on a pub crawl... or enjoy a quiet bike ride through the old part of town.
Well, I now lament no more!
Things are generally going ok, except that all of Melbourne is currently in the grip of gay fever.
"When I sent that SMS I was a bit tired, and didn't check it properly... I meant to say HAY fever".
Some things never change.
It made me smile.
Can't wait!!! :-)
It seems there are quite a few Taswegians making the trip across Bass Strait to visit The Colonies in the next little while.
We all need at least one person in our lives who tells us we are amazing on a regular basis. I am blessed to have at least 3-4 such people in my life.
Welcome to LAAA LAAA week.
Rule no.1 (according to a minster friend of mine) is that NOTHING at Selection Conference is informal or off the record. You can guarantee that the panel members are watching your every move, and may refer to that casual, throw-away comment made over coffee in one of your interviews.
I found it rather disconcerting that I was greeted by a man I had never met before with "Hello, you must be Caro, I recognised you from your photo," and the conversation continued in a rather weighted manner, as it became obvious that he knew just about everything about me (which of course, as a member of the panel, he would, after reading all the paper warfare of my application documents and references etc) and I knew nothing about him. It totally perverted the usual ritual of meeting people for the first time, where both parties usually swap little tidbits about themselves, in a process which gradually moves the level of disclosure from the superficial and 'public domain' to more intimate details of how you think, feel etc. As I said, I found this cutting across the usual social rituals to be rather disconcerting.
Then came a group activity (have I mentioned how much I LOVE group activities -not-?) Hmph.
Then the Saturday was spent in interviews: each applicant had two interviews, with two panel members on each occasion. The first was on the topic of vocation and calling, and the second on academic and personal support issues.
Rule no. 2 (also from the same minister friend) If you are asked at interview what you would do if the selection panel recommends you not be accepted as a candidate, the only right answer is to say: "well, I guess that means you'll see me again next year, as I am so convinced in my sense of calling to this ministry". The important thing is to convey a sense of confidence in one's calling, without being arrogant and treating the process like a fait accompli.
|You Are a Life Blogger!|
Your blog is the story of your life - a living diary.
If it happens, you blog it. And make it as entertaining as possible.
... or so it seemed when I walked into the Gelobar in Lygon St East Brunswick tonight.
My friend Lisa from Canberra was in Melb this week for work, and she rang me to catch up, suggesting we meet at the Gelobar for coffee and/or dinner tonight. Well, that's where we met, but decided we did actually need something savoury before the sweet, so wandered up the road to a rather unremarkable looking Indian restaurant where we had some amazing food (cheap too) before heading back to the Gelobar for ice cream and coffee.
I have to say that my head swam as I looked at not only the incredible range of ice cream and gelati flavours on offer, but also the various cakes, tarts, biscuits and other gorgeous things ... as I said, it was like I had died and gone to heaven (and man! what a way to go! :-)
After Lisa and I had enjoyed some ice cream (I had lemon and blood orange gelati) and coffee, we exited, full and happy, and as I walked out the door, I invoked the words of a famous actor, "I'll be baaaaack!" :-)
Post script: After I had seen Lisa onto her tram to head to her city hotel, I wandered across Lygon St, and found a 24 hour florist, and couldn't resist buying a small bunch of jonquils to brighten up my flat...
*sigh* spring has indeed sprung... and have I mentioned that I am enjoying living in Melbourne? :-)
What a way to start the day!
so hopefully soon my home will be a completely BOX-FREE ZONE! Yay!
... to drink instant coffee
And there I saw it:
A gleaming metal stove-top espresso machine... going cheap... virtually screaming at me to buy it! (ooh! shiny!)Of course, I did the responsible thing, and (considering that I already have 3 plungers and a dripolator) told the sales woman that I needed to think seriously about whether I really needed it... knowing full well that after my excursion to the supermarket, I would be back there like a shot to buy the gizmo. (sigh... I am so predictable!)
Can I use that as justification? The stove top machine will really save me money, because I don't use as much coffee- it will pay for itself in no time!