We have a new dog, Tinkerbell. She’s 6 years old and we’ve rescued her from a breeder who has no further use for her as she’s had all the puppies that she can safely have (I’ll say no more about what I feel about that). She’s about to go from living in a kennel with 50 other dogs to the comparative luxury of our manse.
It’s going to take time for her to adjust and we’re aware that it may be a while before she is used to the enormous changes that are about to occur to her. Scarlett and Oscar are also going to have some adjusting to do. Adapting to new things is hard even when it’s a positive move in the right direction.It’s three years since I moved to Hull to be with you. As I reflect on it I see how we’ve all had to adjust and some of it has been a joy (90%) and some of it has been a struggle (10%). I suspect that ratio will continue as we grow and learn together. Some things have worked, and some things are best described as “learning experiences”.
One of the hardest things for me has been trying to balance my time. I have always struggled with a work life balance and this continues. As I’ve shared with you at the planning meetings I work about an extra week a month (about 40 extra hours) since Simon left. I spend at least 1 week a month in meetings (elders, church, synod and "gappers" [Gap Year Students]), 1 week preparing worship and bible studies, 1 week delivering them and that leaves me with 1 week for the everything else. For example, I go to 3 care homes and 2 schools monthly.
I must also take some time to continue to learn and refresh myself spiritually if I am to be a spiritual leader rather than just an administrator. I find it all a constant struggle and I know that you do too when I can’t always be as present as I’d like, or I have to
change plans because something has come up.
On the other hand, one of the things that keeps me going is you. It is your support, concern, prayers and help that I value so much. I am grateful that so many of you help me to try to be my best self by reminding me about the details of things (like times… is it 6.30,7 or 7.30??????). It’s sometimes hard to keep track of things when I have the details of 4 churches, Peter’s House and the University Chaplaincy as well as a coming book whirling around in my head. I’m also aware of how much you all do and without so many of you working so hard, the churches would grind to a halt.
This year has been a particular joy because of the "gappers" Noah, Anja, Janos and Rosina. They have bought energy, youthful enthusiasm and given me an enormous sense of pride in our next generation. It’s with sadness we see them go at the end of July. But it is also with excitement that we’ll welcome the interns (newly renamed as everyone hates the term "gappers" but me) Ana, Hayley, Natascha and Marvin.
So let’s take a deep breath over the summer and count the blessings of each other. Let’s look forward to another year living laughing and learning together.