When life throws you a googly what do you do?
Well in my case I was hopeless at cricket at school and the only prowess I displayed on the field was in looking smart in my cricket whites . Indeed I found the whole concept of cricket a deeply civilised way to spend a summers afternoon chatting with ones friends as 10th man or in the deep depths of silly mid something or other, but rarely having much to do with the ball. It all seemed to be chess in woolen sweaters to me.
I digress: so yes, if life throws you a curved ball: for those with as little knowledge of cricket as me: a bowlers trick where the ball appears to be coming one way , but actually because of clever spin, leads towards the batsman rather than away from the bat . How do you indeed react?
When you’ve spent probably half a life time being told by pretty much everyone you meet that you’d make a good vicar, it comes as a pretty jolting shock when your church doesn’t agree. It also makes for a series of very interesting conversations where you find yourself being an apologist for the Christian faith, in trying to explain to all those folk why the Church has said no to that calling. The lack of that ability to be the apologist being the very thing that the church cites as why its a no in the first place….
Of course not even my dear Church of England, and I say that genuinely: I do despite everything, have affection for it still, would expect someone in my position to be able to fully understand and let alone explain to others, why.
I do however find myself in this unexpected wildernesss, this hinterland , this between and working out how to navigate this strange land. It’s perhaps to the liminal that I am being called, & have always been called. The interface, the connecting places. Some of which may seem barren, but yet afford such treasure. Indeed God is always to be found in such places of touching between worlds.
One significant waymarker on this unexpected sojourn has been helping in the hosting at Michaelhouse on an excellent series of Lenten talks on responses to the refugee crisis. Amongst other things it has vividly brought to life the varying ways we all journey in life.
I am aware that my musings are very self centred, in that I dare to resonate with the plight of a refugee in my own journey. But whilst the packaging is very different, blessed as I am with a comfortable life, I nevertheless feel a deep sense of pain and loss of being a spiritual/ vocational refugee.
In my admission of the ego in my writings I however make no apology. As I said from the genesis of this blog that it was to be a working out and sharing of my own journey with a hope and prayer that it maybe helpful for others on their own journeys. And so on that basis I and it continues.
I talked before about the pleasure of release of baggage, of unburdening of old luggage so perhaps it’s appropriate that sense of freedom has led me to explore the possibility of a new journey, or at least a new chapter on my quest, and with a lighter load.
I have always been intrigued by the imagery and reality of pilgrimage and story and have decided that I am going to walk some of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela later in the year.
I have a sense that to journey onwards I may need to journey inwards. That maybe a surprising revelation given that I have spent the last two years in pursuit of self understanding and how that may relate to others and from that where I me being called to be, but perhaps just being for now is sufficient.
After all last year was in the main about physical and emotional recovery from major trauma and perhaps my recent Challenge has been something of spiritual surgery from which I also need to recover and recalibrate from.
I was moved as I’m sure were many the others by the stories being shared by celebrities on the new BBC2 series of a Camino pilgrimage.
In particular I was touched by the candid sharing by Rev Kate Bottley of Gogglebox fame. Incidentally, I like many, was greatly surprised that I would enjoy watching others watching television….
Rev Kate ,now co-host of radio 2’s Sunday morning faith show, was blunt & raw in her emotions on the tv series & doubt – the constant companion of faith- was evident. She’s recently shared elsewhere something of the crisis of vocation that led her to take up the challenge of the Camino as a pilgrim.
Whilst I have only recently come to the prayerful decision to explore a journey on the Camino for myself I have already made one firm decision. I won’t be carrying a full rucksack on the walk. This is partly a practical consideration, as a year after open-heart surgery it still hurts to have a lot of sustained pressure on my chest, but I think it’s also a spiritual and emotional choice as I am aware of how physically challenging the Camino will be.
Whilst the self flagellation of carrying on one’s back everything needed for weeks of walking may appeal or spiritually resonate with some, for me frankly being still here and fit enough to take on the walk is challenging enough.
It is my hope and prayer to share both the preparation and journey on here and whilst much is still to be decided I can say for certain that I won’t be packing my cricket whites.