Friday, June 27, 2008

a solitary place

Today I am having a day off work for no reason.

In one week, I move to Canterbury for a month of Lambeth Conference shinnanigans .... so I took the last chance for a pyjamas-until-11am, home-bound-except-to-pop-out-for-something -indulgent-from-Tescos kind of day.

A chance not just to slob but to ponder on 'Intuitive leadership: embracing a paradigm of narrative, metaphor & choas' by Tim Keel.

Books often cohere thoughts I've been having. In fact, I sometimes rely on them for that. Keel challenged me to set the books aside more often, just try to 'be' with God (now why should that sound so cheesy?) and trust the incoherence.

He discusses churches' need to control the world with market research, Willow-Creek-modelled services and meetings. He advocates a bit of chaos and uncertainty. He asks churches to be more silent, in worship and in posture, to listen to voices from their margins, voices that might be emotional, incoherent, naive, lacking in confidence, abrasive.

He advocates more stillness. Do you need to be still? I do. My noisy world moulds me into an achiever and consumer. A purpose-driven pain in the arse. Even in prayer, I want to reach God in order to be a better person, in order to know him more fully, in order to energise myself for action, in order to change the world.....enough orders. What about enjoying God? What about him enjoying me?

One of the reasons church leadership is wrong for me at this time is because it would be something I have sought before I have sought God. Something I have idolised. Even if that's not the intention, or even the case at the start, somewhere along the line that's what would happen. 'Leading' in any formal, institutional way is a too-easy route to that mythical place where I can hear God better and where others are more likely to listen to me.

I need to stop aiming for the future and learn to hear God where I am, with one foot at least in the margins. I need to stop worrying about whether or not others can hear me. That doesn't really matter. God's word is already amongst us, having arrived as a middle-eastern baby in a cowshed. Somehow, I think I need to give up worrying my pretty little head about how he'll communicate the things we all need to hear.....and just listen.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

So now we know!

Following my rather cryptic entry a few weeks back, I am now in a position to confirm what's happening with me & Jon in the Autumn. Post Lambeth...that faint whiff of future.....

On September 29, I shall start working as an Events Manager with Affinity Events in Chepstow and Jon shall start a second (ahem) PhD in Complexity Science at Bristol University. Dr Dr. Oh yes.

This is all good because:
a) Jon is clearly an academic not a teccie
b) the people and ethos of Affinity seem very well suited to my personality and priorities
c) we shall be getting out of London, the tube, the traffic, the stress, the status anxiety treadmill, the vast expense
d) we shall be getting into the Wye Valley, walks from the doorstep to Tintern Abbey, a rent free five-bedroom house, Bristol on the doorstep (and vastly less money, but what the heck. In fact, that will be fun, too.)

All less than four months away. If we stay in Chepstow longer term, which I kind of hope we will, our children may have to learn to speak Welsh. Can this get any more exciting??!!

(For those wondering what may have happened to my dreams of ordination, well, perhaps they shall resurface. But for pragmatic as well as principled reasons, I shall be exercising my ministry in a 'lay' capacity. Lying down, at times)