What I may well be doing today part 9…

clock

…is forgetting date and time

(hey that rhymes!…. and so did that).

Forgetting is a theme of a good holiday for me. Total floating through a day/days with no routine,  is completely lovely. Especially in a country that seems to excel in long lunchbreaks and where, unlike England, everything does not shut at 4.30 on a summer day. A day where a bit of light cricket, a drink of wine and scratching your butt constitutes a full day is sheer bliss. I’m falling asleep writing this and beginning about it….

So effective is it, that it takes me weeks to get ‘normal’ time back. I am convinced, as I get older, that this affects me throughout the year.

Thank you God….this means that I have begun to realise I’m not in control….

By the miracle of wordpress, I am able to bore you rigid even while I am on holiday….

What I may well be doing today part 8…

…playing cricket in a field. And not even a good field. It is often hot in France- I would feel like a fish out of water there; if someone British can’t talk about the weather, then life becomes boring. So, strangely, all fields are not lush and green with 22 yards of rolled turf in the middle.

I will be playing cricket with my 7 year (nearly 8) old son. This will be played according to his rules. That explains why he is currently at around 650 for 5. These rules are:-

—You are not allowed to bowl spin.

— you are not allowed to bowl pace.

—you cannot get him out if he screams loud enough.

— 2 wickets in 2 balls is not allowed.

— leg before wicket is not allowed: standing in front of the stumps is.

—He cannot be run out.

There are also additional rules which may be invoked by him, at will, to cover any eventuality.

It is going to be a long, hot holiday…

IMG_0505

Just a thought: I think he is trying to create a world of ‘order’ where everything is ‘fair’ to him. Normal 7/8 year old behaviour. Pity that a lot of adults sometimes seem stuck in this mode of seeing things…

By the miracle of wordpress, I am able to bore you rigid even while I am on holiday….

What I may well be doing today part 7

A friend once told me that he wanted to go to France but he didn’t drink wine….

 red wine

Words fail me. It is like going to church and it not affecting the way that you live……….erm….. most of us already do that. Or like…. sorry can’t think of anything…

I am a John Wesley Methodist: he wanted to throw anyone out of the nascent Methodist movement who advocated temperence as he felt it was so unbiblical. Ok…he lived on the same income all his life and gave the rest of it away….but perhaps one can’t get too carried away by folowing historical figures. After all, that would be idolatory wouldn’t it?

France….and not liking wine? Excuse me…I’m going to have to go outside and scream…

By the miracle of wordpress, I am able to bore you rigid even while I am on holiday….

 

 

What I may well be doing today part 6

radiohead

 

There is that line from ‘Karma Police’ by Radiohead:-

‘Whoops for a minute there, I lost myself’

(I can’t get across the sheer beauty and irony in the way that is sung)

I may well be doing that today. At times like this, I genuinely forget who I am and what I’m doing. The way that people sometimes talk about ordination; you know- clear throat, change tone, sound very serious has never been me. I am not the type that wears a dog collar in the bath or talks over pompously about ‘ontological change’ (if you don’t know what that means; well they were a prog rock group in the 70s).

So often, on holiday, watching football, cricket, at rock concerts- I genuinely forget what it is I do for a living. So today I might have lost myself. If I was to attempt a little theology to justify myself (don’t we all?!), I would say that what I do is about God’s grace to me, his grip on me and not my grip on strange theological concepts. But I won’t: I am on holiday after all…

 

By the miracle of wordpress, I am able to bore you rigid even while I am on holiday….

What I may well be doing today part 5…

Today I may well have started reading ‘pulp’. I often have all sorts of high intentions about reading books of great theological import or the latest deep novel that ‘everyone’ is talking about (‘everyone’ = 7 gin sozzled literary editors who live in Bloomsbury/Islington who happen to write for/know someone who writes for a broadsheet).

Those intentions often last for up to 15 minutes, before I give in and for the first time read complete pulp fiction; the kind of stuff I would feel guilty about wasting time on at any other time of year… (ok the ones I am actually taking, I don’t feel guity about reading at any time, but you get the point…)

This year, I’m being honest- I’m laden down with Bernard Cornwell and popular war non-fiction. The odd NT Wright will creep into my suitcase; it may get read, but it will more than likely sit there like a gym membership card for a sedentary beer fiend…… as a kind of guilt assuager…

Thank God for fallow times….

bernard cornwell

By the miracle of wordpress, I am able to bore you rigid even while I am on holiday….

What I may well be doing today part 4

hands 2 

Going to church?

I suppose I could be. Last year, on my sabbatical, I avoided church for a while. Something strange happened- it was largely ‘too much’ for a while. I didn’t have a breakdown ; maybe it was close- I don’t know.

However, last year on holiday in France, I got a flyer on my windscreen for a church service promoted by the Anglican church abroad. It is funny; badged with ‘The Anglican Church’ it felt ‘safe’….. if it had said ‘The Revived Church of Prophecy invites you to holiday inspiration’…. well then you would have been able to see the dustcloud rising from my feet ( and maybe it would have been the same if it was a Methodist Church : ‘Come drink tea from green cups amidst beautiful vineyards’) as I ran in the opposite direction.

I went… and I was at worship with my family; low evangelical, simple liturgy, kids welcome and the promise of community (which we never took up)… and I liked it and the holiday seemed more full of grace and thankfulness.

So maybe, if I can find it, as you read this I will be there. I miss church… I miss worship. It keeps me grateful and noticing signs of the kingdom I would otherwise miss.

 

By the miracle of wordpress, I am able to bore you rigid even while I am on holiday….

What I may well be doing today part 3….

I should be at the place where I’m going to by now. If I can afford it (which this year I can)- I love to be able to stay somewhere for 2 weeks. It means my protestant work ethic of ‘right…lets see x and y and we may just have time for z….there done it.’ begins to turn off.

That blissful feeling of space, light, no borders and sheer ‘fallow’ time hits me. No diary…nothing.

Hey…. you are probably reading this in the middle of day at home, doing ‘stuff’…. you don’t need someone rubbing your nose in it. Sorry. But I’m at the beginning of a long blissful holiday….bliss. Sorry- did it again.

Here you go- a holiday picture from last year to cheer you up.

IMG_0496

Sorry- rubbed your nose in it yet again….

 

By the miracle of wordpress, I am able to bore you rigid even while I am on holiday….

What I may well be doing today part 2

luggage full and ready to travel

Packing (well in reality I will have done it 2 days ago…… but this is not strictly a blog: it is art).

I hate it.

Well… I love making lists about it.

And then lists to keep the lists together.

But actual packing? I don’t like it. I’ll pack a few items, read an article in ‘Q’, pack some more, check cricket matches on the internet, think about packing some more, have a grumpy fit about the amount of stuff other members of the family want to put in the car….get even angrier when I am accused of messing about and finally finish packing too late, fall instantly asleep and wake up too early….

…and then start worrying that I haven’t packed everything (like how am I going to manage without a 1953 Wisden, a bishop’s mitre and a pair of size 9 diving boots)…..

 But by the time you will have read this, I will be ok- packed and unpacked and regretting that I didn’t bring that bishop’s mitre after all….

 

By the miracle of wordpress, I am able to bore you rigid even while I am on holiday….

What I may well be doing today part 1

Doesn’t it really wee you off when people talk incessently about their holidays? It does me.

Well, by the time you read this, I will be on holiday.

I’m not going to say that it is a ‘well-earned break’, as grumpy old man that I am, I don’t like that phrase. Why should anything be ‘well earned’….. can you truly ‘earn’ or ‘deserve’ anything…. and where does grace come into it? However, I am looking forward to it.

So by the time you are reading this, I will be thrashing a 7 year old car, approaching the ‘change in life’ and with 102,000 miles on the clock down to a channel port. I will have seethed inwardly and outwardly at the 111th version of ‘are we nearly there yet?’ (110 of those being from my wife), listened carefully for strange noises from the engine, grumbled at the price of a hotel room and got…… well really excited, happy and grateful that I can do this….well earned or not….

m25 sign

can you believe that people take pictures of these? Can you believe the kind of people that find them and copy them into a blog? Erm…that would be me.

By the miracle of wordpress, I am able to bore you rigid even while I am on holiday….

Bits and pieces

bits and pieces

Today is a ‘bits and pieces day’: the day before a long holiday (and don’t worry kiddies- eager followers have the pure joy, by the miracle of wordpress of a post everyday on this blog. Let merriment be unconfined!). A day of lists and some good feeling of ‘closure’: albeit temporary.

Some observations of where things are at here:-

—-In most ways I like it here. This is a place of connections. I was doing a sleepover this weekend and a volunteer for Youth for Christ laughed when he realised the multiple community roles people here had. He then said wistfully ‘I would like to live in a place like this’. Yesterday when I dropped my car off, I asked the mechanic for some advice on playing minor barre chords on the guitar. ‘I’m learning the guitar’. ‘I know you are’ he said….and then dropped my car back at my house- I did not tell him my address….

—- I can’t imagine moving and entering into the hell that is the Methodist stationing system. I don’t know how much I see myself as a ‘traditional Methodist minister’ anymore. Someone said to me in the pub last week ‘You don’t mind me saying: but you don’t seem like traditional clergy do you?’ I was suprised at that. I want to be ‘Rev’ but heavily involved in one community- not exclusively stuck in a church or becoming a kind of ‘church manager’ over several locations.

—- Having said that, I can imagine doing something else for a few years and attempting to plant something/do something more incarnational which may lead to a worshipping community.

—- My kids feel connected and part of something. That makes me happy. I wish we/they could be more connected in a church/Christian community.

—- Frustration. The way forward is to do something more ‘discipleship based/community formation based’. At the moment, even the most ‘innovative’ things I do are ‘attractional’. This is a weakness of church culture and a weakness in me. There are roots here- have I the courage and ability to develop them?

—- Deep Frustration. Traditional ecumenism is slowly killing me. It is focussed around ‘how can we agree/get on’ and not around mission questions. I don’t go with the trad evo view of ecumenism to be avoided and do your own thing as that seems just like buying into a culture of individualism. However I find it draining to meet intransigence, ‘eucharistic exclusion’ and a reluctance to engage heartily with a world where God is alive and active but which our traditional churches are not touching.

Overall on a scale of happy/not happy, I am ‘quite to very happy’. ‘Happy’ is not the right word- perhaps ‘Generally hopeful’ is better. This disturbs me. I used to be more angsty…..