A good friend presented me with this recently. Spooky, since it has been a recurring theme for me. Female colleagues in this part of the world are very thin on the ground. But, as they say, its not about quantity - its about quality.
Time to shake things up and show a new way.
No mimicking, no competing - just doing what comes naturally - being human- and female.
After a fairly stormy night - I was up until 2am sermon writing - I thought that today might be my first rainy Sunday in Ayr. Not so. Once again, the sun greeted the morning. So, not the customary post preaching nap. Can't possibly go wasting all that lovely sunshine. I read a book in the garden, accompanied by this little fellow. I could get used to this. Now I need to discover some good walks nearby so that, when the weather does change I don't go back to my sedentary Sunday afternoon ways.
Well, its finally kicked in. I'm back at the grindstone. I was right to enjoy the quiet while I could because things are hotting up. Within an hour today, I spoke with 4 funeral directors and it looks like a big portion of next week will be spent at various crematoria. I had difficulty getting to a meeting tonight because I just couldn't get off the phone long enough to set off. However, when I finally did, the walk gave me time to reflect on how it felt to be back in harness. You know what? It feels great. I function better when I'm under pressure. But the other thing I was very conscious of is that this is a welcome kind of pressure, not the kind of oppressive cloud that I've been living under for quite some time. God and me - we're in this together.
Last Sunday, after my "preaching in" we went to the beach. As I walked along barefoot on the warm sand, I thought: "Life doesn't get much better". However, this Sunday, my first "solo" service - thankfully accompanied by the ever present Holy Spirit - some friends came to worship, stayed for lunch and then we all spent the afternoon in the garden. We had all manner of garden games - hopscotch, connect four, the space hopper, bubbles and these floaty shapes. All the big kids played well together. Such a fun Sunday afternoon - well worth sacrificing the usual post preaching nap for. I wonder when it will feel like I'm not on holiday in this new parish. When will all the responsibilty kick in and the pace step up? I'm sure it can't be far off but, meantime, I'm going to enjoy these summer days and this holiday feel and rest in this God given and much needed respite. Love it.
Well, the inevitable happened. I got lost out walking my parish. I was seduced by a cemetery and decided to explore. Only, I couldn't find an exit and, before I knew it, I was a couple of miles off track. Thankfully it was a dry, clear night, so I just kept looking for the Castlehill cross. Was I thankful when it eventually hove into view and I could find my way home. I'm sure that's just the first adventure of many in this strange land! But, with the landmark that the church is, I'll never be lost for too long.
"The apple never falls far from the tree" or, as we say in Scotland: "Well, they don't lick it aff the grun' " A good friend and colleague "preached me in" to my new charge yesterday. He talked about how folk would bring their sick friends to line the streets wherever the apostle Peter was so that, as he passed, his shadow might fall upon them and bring healing.
It can be daunting to think of the shadow that we cast, of the influence we have on others. But it can also be exhilirating to remember that, even without knowing it, we affect people. And so, on all those days when we feel discouraged. when we struggle to think of any good that we have achieved, we take comfort in the hope that we have made a positive contribution simply by being ourselves. I certainly hope that my shadow is one that brings a healing love in this new beginning in Ayr: Castlehill.
I've never lived or worked in a locality with which I am not familiar. So this move down the coast presents something of a challenge. Even a trip to the grocery store requires the help (or hindrance) of sat nav. Its the weirdest feeling, one minute wildly exciting and the next, really scary.
Tonight, the Presbytery of Ayr will induct me to my new charge - and then the challenge really begins.
Working with a whole team of folk who speak, not a different language, hopefully, but certainly a different dialect!
Getting to know each other and forging a way forward together.
I know that the Holy Spirit has nudged me to journey this far, how can I imagine that she will abandon me now?
Even the blind alleys and wrong turns have their purpose, especially in a strange landscape. There is the opportunity to explore and encounter something new and wonderful and all the better for being unexpected.
And so today I entrust myself and my family, not to the guiding voice of Darth Vadar who provides the instructions on my sat nav, but to the whisper of a God who knew me as I was being formed in my mother's womb, who loves me unconditionally and who calls me now to trust and follow where God leads.
The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob still calls people out of their comfort zones, sends us on journeys and walks beside us all the way.