So, I’m nearly a month in and I’ve been making a list of all surprising things/surprising moments! I find myself with 10 minutes to spare at New Wine and so I’ve written a list of my top 10 surprises of curacy so far.
1. When we left Durham on 10th June the first thing that struck me was how Nathan had gone from being the loveliest person in the world to the most annoying person in the world, seemingly overnight. I honestly wondered if someone had flicked a switch somewhere in his head. In the midst of moving
house houses (as we moved from 4 different locations), it did seem like he had had a personality transplant. ‘Sorry, you want to keep the condiments in which cupboard?’ ‘You think that is a productive use of time?’ and ‘Why don’t you just follow the instructions for the Ikea bookshelf?’ are just three of the many thoughts I had. Nothing had prepared me for how difficult setting up home with another person would be, and I haven’t even moved in yet! However, things, as we could have predicted, improved immensely when the house began to take shape and we started jobs with proper routines (and mostly when I got some more sleep!) So surprise 1: Nathan.
On my first evening in Formby I made my way to my new landlady’s house. I immediately managed to not only lock myself out but also double lock the door so that the handle wouldn’t even turn. Thankfully, my new housemate has a great sense of humour and the lock was quickly sorted! Surprise number 2.
Onto number 3. So it’s my first week and I’m nervous and desperate to say the ‘right thing’. I got home for lunch after a morning in a community cafe and it transpires that Nathan and I had made the same pastoral blunder that morning. In response to people telling us their troubles we both said words along the line of:
‘well, at least you’ve got biscuits’.
We were both so frustrated that we seemed to have lost all competence upon entering Parish life. But I think, and hope, that since relaxing a bit we have improved a bit. (Apologies to Cranmer Pastoral Care tutors Jenny, Kate and Joss! You are fab, we just lost the plot slightly for a morning!)
Surprise 4: People notice stuff. I mean, more than I thought they would. They notice when you’ve accidentally put on navy socks with your new black shoes and when your grass gets too long.
Number 5 is possibly my favourite. There was an amazing moment when I was told that I might be asked to turn the Christmas tree lights on… on local hero’s shopping trolley!
6: lodging with a parishoner is excellent! Not only have I made a new friend, but it is also extremely useful. My landlady has a wisdom and knowledge of the Parish, the people and the area which is such a valuable resource. She fills me in on the history of the area and helps me make links between different groups of people. She’s also happy to remind me of people’s names again… and again… and again!
Surprise 7: There are five Sunday services across three churches in my curacy. Four of these services take place in the morning. On my first Sunday, I read my assent (legal vicar document) at all 4 services and the flying between churches where in 3 we wear robes and 1 we don’t, reminded me of quick changes in a musical theatre production.
Number 8: When I have a conversation with a group of people and I’m wearing a dog collar, I think that I get interrupted much less than I would do if I wasn’t wearing a collar. Didn’t expect that.
9: On a completely different note, I am really surprised at how much I am enjoying cycling! It’s good for me, it’s faster and it’s super easy to stop and chat to people!
10: Finally, I am surprised to find how quickly I no longer care about academia. Now I’m in the job ‘doing’ the stuff, I realise how little the people I am ministering to care about what I got in this essay, or that essay, or even my degree overall!
So that’s it! My top 10 surprises/surprising moments of my first month in curacy.