28 July 2011

Slowing down

As I reach the end of my final week on placement here in Sheringham, I can finally feel myself slowing down a bit. As I won't be on placement after Sunday, there's been no point in attending any funeral visits or meetings for future events. I've done a visit today with one more planned for this afternoon, then PCC this evening. Tomorrow morning I'll be joining a couple of people who take people with learning difficulties and mental problems round the shops. On Saturday I have a morning meeting, and then there's the small matter of preaching at the 10am service on Sunday. Then I'm done, apart from a review meeting with the incumbent of the parish to look at writing a report - that's on Monday after the placement has formally finished.

So there's more to come, but not quite at the manic pace of the first few days and weeks of the placement. Now I need to write some reflections on my placement for the PCC meeting this evening, along with constructively critical comments about the parish! Hmmm.

22 July 2011

For those in peril on the sea

Yesterday I was involved in the funeral of Don, who had been Merchant Navy man during the war. The service was a superb tribute to him and to all his comrades who worked to keep Britain's supply lines open despite the prowling U-Boats. The Sheringham Shantymen (several of whom had RNLI pagers on their belts) gave wonderfully moving renditions of a couple of traditional farewell sea shanties, and we sang 'the Naval hymn', from which the title of this post is taken.

Today was my day off, and following an afternoon of DIY labour in my father-in-law's house, we took a stroll along the sea front in the early evening. As we got to the sea front, I noticed that the sea was looking a little rough - too rough for swimming - then I saw three people in the water very close to one of the groynes. We soon realised one of the three was an RNLI lifeguard, who was doing his best to prevent the two teenagers from meeting a gruesome end. We watched as the lifeguard successfully got them round the groyne and onto the beach. At that point, the RNLI lifeboat, which had just been scrambled, roared onto the scene about a minute too late to offer assistance.

The lifeguard had rocketed along the seafront on his bike after getting the call. He'd gone straight into the water, despite the crashing waves, the strong currents and the jagged rocks. When he came out, he was clearly exhausted, but his first thought was to assess his patients and tend to their needs. If he hadn't been so quick to react, I think there would have been some significant injuries, and possibly deaths.

Two striking reminders in as many days of the importance of those whose calling is to protect people around our coasts. Don's favourite poem was read at the funeral yesterday, and it spoke of the unsung heroes of the merchant navy. I have long thought of the RNLI as contemporary unsung heroes, and that they should be state funded; what I witnessed today confirmed this for me.

20 July 2011

More news from the coast

It seems to have been some time since my last post, and as LittleLanky is fast asleep beside me and DrLanky is downstairs marking some OU coursework, I have a rare opportunity to blog.

The last few weeks have been busy in my placement. Since the Petertide ordinations and our mad dash to Lancashire, I have been worked hard in the parish. Funerals (and related visits), Weddings (plus rehearsals), Fabric committee meetings, extraordinary PCCs, sermons... plus the usual involvement in Sunday services - reading, deaconing, serving... you get the idea.

After six weeks in Sheringham it's starting to feel like we've done this particular experience now. I have a week and a half left on placement, and we've begun to psychologically adjust to going back to Cambridge. It's been good to be here, but we now want to go home.

Placements like this one are meant to do many things for the ordinands. Learning new things, having new experiences, seeing the reality of parish ministry etc. But the single biggest thing it's done for me is to point out that I really want to get into a curacy, and get on with ministry. I'm happy to embark upon a second year at theological college, and this blog will all too soon be overtaken by academic concerns, but my experience of parish life in Sheringham has got me excited about getting on with this priesthood malarkey. That's probably a good 'learning outcome'!

We should start to get the first clues about where I might be going for a curacy at some point in August. I seem to spend many of my rare idle moments impatiently speculating about where the bishops might want to put me. When that part of the process starts, I expect I will have to be quite tight-lipped until things are confirmed, so whilst I might have some news soon, I won't be able to post anything here for some time. The truth is, I just want to know! Patience is a virtue I haven't quite cracked.

On the positive side, test cricket returns tomorrow. The prospect of a climb to the top of the world test rankings, and a scrap with former England mastermind, Duncan Fletcher, are enough to get me skipping with excitement! Shame I have a funeral tomorrow afternoon, which given the distance from here to the crematorium will occupy me all afternoon. And we can't get Channel 5 here. Do they have an online catchup service?

7 July 2011

Crazy week!

It's been a bit of a crazy week!

We were back in Lancashire on the weekend to be at the ordination of Deacons in Blackburn Cathedral, where two Westcott students we're ordained. One of them has a blog here, and he's promised to update it as he starts his journey as a member of the clergy in Blackpool. The other Westcott ordinand has gone to be the new curate at the Priory in Lancaster - where the former was a parishioner before he went to Westcott. It's a small world; especially in the C of E.

Despite being further north in Sheringham than we would have been in Cambridge, it's a considerably longer journey up to the northwest from here. Undeterred, we set out for a weekend of late night travelling, disrupted sleeping patterns and sub-standard service station food. But it was all worth it. It was great to be back in Blackburn Cathedral, and to see lots of familiar faces. It was also good to see what will be happening to me (God willing) at the same time next year. The service was very good (though long) and the music was excellent. Mike Peatman was there, and I share some of his reservations about the use of choir-only mass settings for such services, though the choir and organist were on good form.

Seeing friends up at the front of the cathedral being ordained was described by DrLanky as 'surprisingly ordinary' when you bear in mind the significance of what was taking place. I think when you've done as much church as you do at theological college, there is something delightfully ordinary about the most significant of liturgical events; be they royal weddings or ordinations. Yet despite the ordinariness, there was a level of personal investment in what was going on; our friends were being ordained, and their families' lives would be forever changed by that event. That's where it gets a bit scary for next year.

On Sunday we managed to catch up with friends in Lancaster, and LittleLanky got to play in Violet and Ivy's paddling pool; complete with ingenious filling technology (a hose from the upstairs shower, with a long string connected to the electrical isolator). We had an impromptu barbecue, followed by Reflect at the chaplaincy.

We returned to the Norfolk coast late on Sunday night, and then I went straight back into my placement on Monday with a morning memorial service, and meetings in the afternoon. This was followed by an event to 'meet the curate' at St Peter's. Another reminder of what lies ahead of me at this time next year!

On Tuesday I preached at the Mothers' Union communion service on the theme of Mary Magdalene. Maybe I'll post the text if I get around to it. In the evening, the standing committee met, and I was present. It was a long meeting!

Then on Wednesday, DrLanky, LittleLanky and I went to the parish playgroup. LittleLanky loves it! In the afternoon, due to the unpredictable weather, we took LittleLanky for a swim at the local 'Tropical Leisure Pool'; she loved that too.

Today was BCP communion, some design and proofreading work in the parish office, some detective work with unidentified keys, and a deanery barbecue in Cromer this evening.

Tomorrow is my day off. We're going to London to see good friends who have just welcomed a baby girl into the world.

And to crown the week in a very satisfactory manner, I see on the BBC website that the News of the World is to close. It's a shame it's taken such a massive scandal to bring about the end of this ridiculous redtop, but I am nonetheless delighted at its demise. Can we get rid of any others at the same time?