Friday, May 30, 2008

Next step

I was congratulated today by the chair of the Theological College Formation Committee, as he informed me that when the committee met last week to consider the reports from the exit interviews (mine and those of my fellow Wise Women) the committee made the recommendation that, pending satisfactory completion of my studies next semester, I am ready to exit at the end of the year.

Woo-hoo! Bring on the dancing tenors!

I celebrated tonight by watching Spooks on TV (gotta love the Brits- they do conspiracy and espionage so much better than the Yanks ;-) with a glass of champagne and take away noodles.

And I think I need to go to bed now... after being woken at 3am this morning by another possum frolicking very loudly in my bathroom (and by the time I had escorted the furry one down the stairs and out to the waiting tree, then cleaned up the mess in the bathroom, it was around 3:30 when I got back to bed.. need... sleep...)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Exit Process begins

This morning I had my "Exit Interview" at the Theological College.

It's hard to believe that I'm at that time in my candidature already, as it really does seem like only yesterday that I arrived in Melbourne ready to start this exciting period of training. And now, I'm at the Beginning of the End, which will culminate in a presentation to the Synod Placements Committee in November, and (hopefully) a phone call that night with the name of a potential ministry placement, and I will be invited to commence a conversation with the Joint Nominating Committee from that placement about the appropriateness of me going to them as their minister during my time as a Ministry Intern when I exit from College.

There are lots of steps in the process between my Exit Interview (the first step) and the JNC conversation (close to final step), which include meetings with my home Presbytery of Tasmania (the council of the church ultimately responsible for my oversight, and decisions about my progress to the Intern phase of my training, and later, my readiness for ordination), and meetings with various members of the Placements Committee prior to presenting to the full committee in November.

But the first step in the process has now been taken... it feels kind of scary, as I know that things will proceed at lightning pace from now on, and it will be no time at all before I find myself at the end of the process... wow.

Makes me pretty keen to savour the remaining time I have in the luxury of full-time study here in the great community of the Theological College and the wider CTM and UFT.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Possum Tales II, or What is does it mean to be Hospitable?

I originally wrote this article for the Uniting Church blog Trapeza, and thought it was worth reproducing here.

During a recent church Bible study, discussion led to the consideration of hospitality, and we asked the question, “what does it mean to be hospitable?

I would guess that for most people, the thing that immediately springs to mind when you mention ‘hospitality’ is the idea of having people into your home, for meals, or perhaps to stay. A couple of members of the study group commented that their circumstances prevent them from being able to invite people into their homes for meals, so we started to explore other ways that we could be hospitable to people which don’t necessarily involve providing meals, or accommodation.

Think about it: how would YOU define ‘hospitality’ if you couldn’t use any concepts relating to meals or inviting someone to your home?

Someone I know once said that hospitality is “allowing the chaos of another person’s life into your own life”. Our group talked about what it might look like to do this, in a practical way, and came to the conclusion that ‘hospitality’ in its broadest sense is very much like ‘generosity’; a willingness to be generous with our time, and all aspects of ourselves for the benefit of others.

This is quite profound, and can often be costly in practice. I shared the story of a colleague many years ago when I was a youth worker in Sydney. He and his family (he and his wife had two pre-school aged daughters at the time) would often have various waifs and strays staying at their home for differing periods of time. On one occasion, he told us how he had rigged up a complex ‘alarm’ system (comprising various tin cans and other noisy items balanced over the doorway of his daughters’ room) so he would be able to hear if a particular houseguest tried to gain access to the girls’ room during the night. I remember marvelling at this, and even now, more than 20 years down the track, I’m still not sure whether to be in awe of my colleague’s faith, or gobsmacked at his stupidity for inviting someone into his home who he thought might harm his children. Either way, he was certainly inviting the chaos of that mans’ life into his own in a big way.

On a lighter note, I am currently struggling with my own hospitality issue, as I note with some dismay that in the last week a local family of possums has decided that my bathroom makes a nice cubby house in which to frolic during the night. Whilst waiting for the promised tradesman to check out my roof and seal off the access point, I have resigned myself to just shutting the bathroom door and allowing them to frolic away, as the larger ones are able to get out the same way they get in, but it seems that last night the baby of the family came for a visit, and when he was finished playing, discovered to his great consternation, that he was not able to climb up and get out. We both had a little ‘moment’ when I went to use the bathroom and discovered him cowering in my bathtub, looking very frightened and forlorn. Fortunately, my ministerial training equipped me to ‘pastorally counsel’ him down the stairs and out the door to the safety of a welcoming tree.

So, I am starting to feel like “The Possum Whisperer” of Brunswick, and can’t help but wonder whether this current situation is some kind of preparation for my future in rural ministry.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Time for zero tolerance?

I have made no secret of the fact that I do not like having creepy crawlies and other foreign creatures inside my home. I have waxed lyrical to friends on many occasions about my policy of "if it has more than 4 legs and is inside, IT'S DEAD".

That's right folks, none of this bleeding heart, "scrape up the spidey-widey into a jar, and let it go outside" crap for me.. oh no, there is a good reason why I have so many heavy theological books strategically placed in various rooms of my house.

Well, I think I have reached the point where I need to revise my policy of how many legs a creature must have before it is dead meat if it finds its way inside.

Tonight I was quietly preparing my dinner in the kitchen, and heard some dreadful scratching noises upstairs... so I went up to investigate, but didn't find anything untoward. A few minutes later, there were more scratching and thumping and some impressively loud sounds. At first I thought that my 'upper room' had been visited by The Almighty, but then changed my mind to think that maybe one of the Bucknall Court resident possums* had found its way into the space between my downstairs ceiling and upstairs floor (there is a crawlspace of about a foot between the two), which would have presented serious problems if the critter was trapped, and couldn't escape, and died. (after a week or two,the smell would have been intolerable).

So once again, I trooped upstairs, and this time found evidence of a possum in my bathroom (dirt, droppings and scuffed footprints on the floor), so thought there must actually be a possum INSIDE somewhere... and sure enough, when I went into the spare room, there he was, sitting on the chest of drawers, large as life, staring back at me as if he owned the place.

I say "he" because, after extracting a very detailed description from me of the possum's appearance, the daughter of my next door neighbour (a self-confessed possum fancier) informed me that I had been visited by the Dad of the resident possum family.

After enlisting the assistance of a neighbour (the only male to be living in our block now), we managed, via a series of 'comedy capersesque' strategies to coax the possum out of the room, down the stairs, and out of the front door (I hope- I didn't actually see him go out, but heard him go down the stairs, and we did a pretty thorough patrol of the living room's nooks and crannies, and couldn't see him anywhere)

This was not a pleasant experience, and it concerns me as to HOW this critter actually got inside, as I am not in the habit of leaving doors or windows open, so there may be a 'secret entrance' that only the possums know about... That's a worry.

So, on the basis of this, I am seriously considering taking a zero tolerance stand with anything with more than TWO legs that I find inside my home.

Call me a redneck, I don't care... just keep those critters away from me!

* I have been informed that we now have a 'family' of three- a Mum, Dad and baby... all of which I'm sure take great delight in crapping and weeing all over my car, and leaving their mess all over my courtyard (and doing the same for all the flats).