A synod

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After so long away from regular blogging, I never anticipated 2 posts in 2 days. It won’t be a habit.

Today I am at a Methodist Synod. It is an all day meeting. Inside. On a Saturday. All day.

I confess that I have had a love/hate affair with Synod. Well; to be honest, more of a hate affair. I get the point about meeting, about connecting with each other and about being united. However, I’ve never got the (sometimes) sheer, mind numbing boredom of 100 plus people facing the front with little involvement from anyone apart from the ‘talking heads’ at the front. Plus, by lunch I often felt overloaded with information, craved silence & home yet sometimes felt frustrated to anger that I was going to get even more information that I had little scope to absorb or do anything about in the weeks afterwards.

Since I left- as Methodists quaintly call it, ‘the active work’, it has seemed almost irrelevant: a fellow chaplain talked of it as something fast receding in a car mirror. I confess that a couple of times I even forgot that it was happening and had to send apologies (the phrase is ‘ask for a Dispensation’: don’t get me started on the compulsion/infantalising potential /paternalism of that phrase).

Yet I’m back- all day today, for the first time in 3 years. Negatively, part of that is because I have to be there. More positively it is something about ‘connecting with the Mothership’ and seeing what is happening in this Institution that I have sometimes had an uneasy relationship with. There is also the chance today to be able to talk (briefly) about the work I do now, and host some workshops to see if others feel a calling into chaplaincy. Perhaps deeper than that is to find out if I am comfortable with my distance from the Institution or to see if there is anything of a calling to attempt a closer relationship.

If I was 45 years younger though, I would be looking for a ‘You’ve been a very good boy’ sticker afterwards though….

A cricket tour, but more than that.


I never got this song at first. I only heard the surface story: about a city. I neglected to listen to the deeper story; about being a father.

We went on a cricket tour to Taunton, Ben and I. Or to be more accurate, he went on a cricket tour and I went to watch. I guess he did well with the opportunities he was given. He didn’t take loads of wickets, but he wasn’t slogged, he asked many questions of good batsmen and he was a presence in the field (ok; I am biased). As a teenage legspinner learning your craft, that is more than enough at this stage.

The longer the cricket tour progressed, the more that this song came to mind (I can think of few significant life occasions and the concomitant reflections that are not given greater depth by the addition of a Martyn Joseph song, but that is a story for another day…). We weren’t just on a tour, but we were living life together; sharing questions, enthusiasms and humour.

Deeper than that, I was interpreting life experiences that he was having and listening to his stories. And I was realising that moments like this – ‘this is one day of our lives’ are what you live for; the world becomes a stiller and lovelier place.