Olympic torch relay

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All done.

Nice new design, all done and dusted.
I may get round to posting something written at some point.

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Redesign time again.

If you happened upon this website,  and wondered to yourself why it looks so disorganised? I have been doing a spot of redecoration.  Things are in the wrong places, and it just doesn't look quite right. Normal service shall resume shortly. Thankyou.

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Oh. Where has the time gone?

I really (yet again), have no idea where time has gone. After starting the course last September, I have hardly had five minutes to myself (that's how it seems anyway), and as a result, things that I would have thought about doing, have been pushed aside or forgotten, in favour of course work, reading for the course or other similar course based pursuits. In the six months since September, I haven't picked up a single book for pleasure, and to be honest I feel quite sad about that. Reading for me once was an escape of sorts, something to relax with. Now, although I find what I am reading incredibly fascinating, and leaves me wanting to find out more; the simple joy of relaxing with a good novel has gone.
Although I am not complaining too much really. After all , it was me who chose to do it after-all. The first term was study skills, sounds a bit babyish perhaps, but I think it was essential. I wouldn't have had the first idea where to start writing academically unless we had done this first. (Doesn't mean I completely remembered what we were taught into the second term tho' (tut tut)). Term two was incredible fun, studying the varied Christian spiritualities. From the Desert Fathers, through to modern Celtic Christian spirituality and everything on between. For our work we had to choose one spirituality in particular, demonstrate our understanding of it by a written work, and to write an Ash Wednesday liturgy in the style of our chosen spirituality (I chose Celtic in a hybrid of modern with a bit of ancient).
Starting last term and continuing next we are required to do an individual study for the one module. I had no idea what to do for a long time, but in the end settled on the Rural Church and the Role it Plays in Rural Communities. I haven't done anywhere near as much work on it as I should yet, and need to get a move on with it, before next term starts.
Next terms study is Connecting beyond the Church. I think that's what it is titled anyway. Should be fun. Problem is, I am constantly being distracted by my family, who the second they see me on the computer decide they need something doing. Or they decide to put the tv on loudly. Peace and quiet where I live is non existent. The only time I have found where I can guarantee peace has been between about midnight and five in the morning. Not a particularly healthy way to go on, when I also have work to go to, meet up with my mum, shopping, cooking and everything else. By the end of each term I was utterly knackered to put it not so politely. The net result of my lack of sleep and almost constant daytime distractions, led me at the end of each term to really consider giving up. But I have been convinced otherwise by others. Trouble is I really am enjoying it so much. I don't want to give up. But we'll see how I get on with it the last term. Better to complete a year and leave, than to go part way through.
My post appears to have turned into a total whinge fest, so I will sign off for now, and hopefully post again soon. Plus I need to sleep.

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Long time no see

Wow. Such a long long time since I last posted. time has flown away at a rate of knots since I last posted on here. So, what has been happening I hear you ask? Well not much, and quite a lot all at the same time.
Last time I posted, it was Easter Day, and I spoke about having a chat with the vicar, and finding someone to talk to about how I felt.
Well, I had a chat with the vicar, I was desperate to know what he thought, whether he could see it in me (being a vicar that is). After a talk for about an hour he did say he thought  perhaps he could see something,  which to my ears was like pure aural gold. Nothing could have sounded sweeter. Only thing was, I wasn't sure if it was the right time to be going anywhere with it, and was concerned that perhaps I was mistaking things. I hoped against hope that I wasn't, but needed to be sure. So a visit to a vocations advisor was suggested, to have a general chat about vocations in general.
The time came. She had asked me to write about my journey so far and why I felt the way I did, so off I went armed with a rather larger than I think she expected essay. She knew in advance how I felt, but needed to talk about vocations in general, hence my visiting her. Anyway in I go. Less than half an hour later, I am stood outside feeling downright upset and quite miserable and insulted to boot. From just 15 minuted she was trying to get me gone, after saying I was still a child as far as "The Church" was concerned, and how could someone like me dare to imagine that I could serve the church, that there was a place in the church for someone like me?  Which I suppose she may have had a point with regards the first point, as I had only returned for just under a year and a half at that point. But she also said to me that I was nowhere near academic enough to study, and wouldn't be able to cope, even with reader training, which I would have accepted if she had been right, or had something on which to base her comments. But she said that within a few minutes of me  meeting her, with no prior knowledge of my background, my history or my education, and I would still love to know how she felt she could jump to so wild a conclusion. That hurt, as I have always considered myself an intelligent person. Eventually after about 20 minutes I could stall her no longer and I was being sent on my way. Her parting words were not to come back for at least 18 months, oh and don't talk to the vicar about it in that time either! 
Why???? Maybe I could understand being told to go away for a year and a half, but why cant I talk to the vicar. Did I have the word "thicko" tattooed across my forehead, perhaps it said "nutter, steer clear" instead?
I was so upset and confused after the meeting I didn't know what to do. I thought I had gone there for a general chat,but instead... well.
I had a really good think going over and over in my mind why she may have said and did what she did and eventually because I was hurting so much from being summarily dismissed, I came to the conclusion that really, I was infact utterly deluded, the vicar had only been kind to me, but really thought me totally unsuitable, and had sent me off to see her so I would get the message. I was in such a bad way, and it took me months literally to try to get over how much I had been hurt.
The Sunday following, at church, I decided to tell the vicar that I had seen her and that she had told me to go away,  perhaps I shouldn't have done, but I told him some of what she said, including not talking to him. I suppose really I shouldn't have done, but I was so angry and upset at the time, that quite frankly I didn't care what she had said regarding that. The vicars reaction was not one I expected, I genuinely thought he would say it was for the best, or to give it time, but he was furious, at that point I regretted saying anything, I didn't want to upset him. He said that she had no right to behave like that, and he was fed up of hearing about the way she treated people (apparently I wasn't the only one upset with her), he said he would have to do something, and I asked him not to. My intention was not to cause trouble when I told him.
I don't know whether the vicar did do anything I have never had the courage to ask him since. What she said, and her attitude towards me led me to believe that the whole church was the same, and I wanted nothing to do with it for quite some time. I didn't stop going though, I couldn't have done that. But I wasn't in the best of minds with regards to it all. It is only in the last couple of weeks that I feel I am returning to normal. Hence why I have not posted in all this time. the result was that I could not ever imagine someone like me becoming a vicar, so on one hand it was there in my heart the whole time, never leaving, and on the other I was trying to convince myself how utterly deluded  I was. I was not in a good place and I very nearly succeeded. It hurt, hurt like hell and it was so lonely. I felt that I couldn't talk to anyone, especially not the vicar, as I really thought that he would tell me I was being pathetic. For a time, I genuinely thought that God had left me. I felt empty, spare and worthless. I have no idea why I let what one person said get to me so much. No idea at all.
Anyway. The person I spoke of in my last post, has become a good friend, and we regularly meet up  after church on the Sunday evening for chats. We have started a bible study group on Wednesdays too, It started out as a prayer group, but somewhere along the way it seemed to work better as a Bible study group, so we stuck with what worked.
 And as of last Saturday we started a course run by the diocese in partnership with Worcester university, a certificate of higher education in education and Christian discipleship. It is a two year course, done part time, and is equivalent to the first year of a degree. The course is a mixture of academic and hands on stuff, and for the first time in a long time I feel optimistic about the future.
I know it may appear as though I am only doing it to prove the vocations adviser wrong, but, I can assure you I am not. I am doing the course because it feels right. Nor am I under any illusions that it may further my chances of becoming a vicar, as I realise it will not, and I am not doing it for that reason.
So, there, I am up to date. Will probably keep updated from now on again, say how the course is going, and if or when I decide to talk about vocations with anyone again.

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He Is Risen

Happy Easter one and all.

Have had a good few days since I last posted, well, weeks really, since I last posted a proper post type post. Anyway. This week has been busy one way or another, have been at work all week, and had church most evenings, which has been lovely. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we had shared services with the neighbouring United Reformed Church. Each evening we had a talk, given by the vicar, and compline (Monday and Tuesday) and an evening of Iona community type prayer at the URC church on the Wednesday. It was great to go to another church for an evening. On the Maundy Thursday evening there was another talk, followed by a foot-washing, then communion. Several people went up to get their feet washed, and watching the vicar doing it was really moving in a way, more-so than I thought it would be (never having been to a Maundy Thursday service before), and at one point, one lady whose feet the vicar washed, then got the vicar to sit down, and washed his feet.

Unfortunately, I was required to work on Good Friday, so missed the services then, but was able to go to the Easter Vigil on Saturday night. I think that of all the services I have been to, through this last year or so since I returned to The Church, the Easter Vigil is my favourite. Starting out in the church , in silence and with no light, then lighting the fire outside, then the Paschal candle from the fire, and processing back into church. Then as the candle is processed down the church all the candles being lit, and spreading light as it goes, is, I think, as close to magic as it is possible to get.

When we were all sat in the darkness and silence at the beginning, dusk was falling outside, and as such, all the birds were singing, as I closed my eyes to think, it was almost as if I was in front of the tomb, waiting and expectant, everything silent and still before dawn, and the birds singing it was like they were sat in trees and bushes there singing before the dawn and the start of a new day. It was really wonderful.

The seven readings were given by candlelight, and when the vicar came down to read the Gospel, with the incense billowing (and boy did it billow) and everyones face lit by the candles with the smoke wreathing around, you could be anywhere in time. Lovely.  We also were able to renew our baptism vows ourselves by going up and dipping our fingers in the water and putting a cross on our foreheads with it. Again I found that incredibly moving, whether it was because I still had the memory of being baptised very recently in my head, or what, I don't know, but when it dipped my fingers in I was surprised by the fact that it was so warm, fully expecting it to be cold, the only thing I could think of was that it was like blood, which I suppose, in one manner it was. When I went and returned to my seat, I really had to stop and have a good think about it. Then we had communion, and it reminded me of the first time I took communion, after I had been baptised and confirmed in January. Lent and Easter have really made me think about things this year, but I think that that it is supposed to do that, so I shouldn't really be too surprised.

As we walked out from the church, somewhere close by began letting off fireworks and put on a wonderful display. I don't know whether another church was using them to celebrate Easter I don't know, but they seemed very fitting at the time. 

One thing that I couldn't quite understand was how few people had gone to it, 20 I think, including the vicar etc. During the week at the services there had been at least twice as many, with different ones coming on different evenings, whether the word vigil put them off, I'm not sure,  although I know whenever I hear the word otherwise, it does make me think of a bedside vigil, a very sombre and sad affair, nothing like the service at all. Never mind.

On to today now. As I was working this morning I missed the service at town church, but went to the evening Easter service at the country church. The church was much fuller than usual, which wasn't unexpected. Another really lovely service, and yet again moving. One man stood up to read from Acts 10.34 -43 but he couldn't contain his emotions and said the last few sentences with tears running down his face and trying so hard not to break down, he was so moved by the words he was reading. It was almost more than the rest of us could do to not cry. The rest of the service passed, and it was time to go home.

I cant remember whether I had mentioned or not about the fact that I was really uncertain about what I should be doing, or rather I did more or less know, just that I wasn't really willing to trust and have faith. Well finally I plucked up enough courage to ask the vicar whether it would be possible to have another talk with him about things, try to make sense of it a bit, and explain myself a little more. When I spoke to him last June, I still wasn't certain what the heck was going on really, and while I still don't have much of a clue to it all, it seems to make a bit more sense, and I think I am able to explain myself, or how I feel. I think I know myself a bit better too, which I hope is a good thing. Anyway I rang the vicar up on Maundy Thursday and asked if it would be possible to have a chat yes he said, what about today? It must have been about four in the afternoon when I rang, with a service at 7:30, and me not finishing work till seven, I didn't think that was going to be possible, but how sweet that he was willing to at such short notice. He is away on holiday for a week now, and he said to remind him about it, so will talk in a couple of weeks. Which I look forward to.

The other thing I had been struggling with was that however wonderful and lovely, kind and patient MLO has been with me, when I have been talking to him about how I feel, and trying to put into words something that sometimes seems impossible to put into words, I really felt that I needed to talk to someone who felt the same, someone who felt that they may have been called to become a vicar. It was really getting at me,  I just wanted to discuss with someone the way I felt and listen to how they felt, maybe get some sort of a gauge as to what was normal, for them anyway, and if it in anyway resembled how I felt. I had been praying about it for a while, and said to MLO several times that it was getting to me. Then a woman who had been to a couple of the confirmation classes with the rest of us, who usually goes to the morning church, started to come to the evening church, and last week we got talking after the service, and somehow ended up discovering that she also wanted to be a vicar, somehow she then also worked out that I did also. Spoke again for an hour after church tonight about things. So, one ecstatically happy bunny here, have arranged to have a real good talk next Sunday after church, really looking forward to it.

Must go now, getting very late, and cold in the study, so night night, and once again


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A poem from two days ago

 A poem I wrote a couple of days ago. Not sure why I decided to post it on here,  but here it is. Hope you like. Not sure if I am referring to anyone specific in it, but if it is anyone, then it is probably a bit of me, as much as anyone.

I see sheep in the air with stars in their eyes
Closing their ears to the worlds anguished cries.
I see wheat in the fields while hungry bones stare
And I see blind hands grabbing money - they can't see how to care.
While dry tears fall down a hunger dulled skin,
There's a stadium of cannibals cheering the win.
And an old lonely widow stares at the dirt on the wall,
While the whole world outside sits debating its call.
I'm rich therefore I am - bawl the majority vote
I'm safe and warm in my castle - see, I've a bloody big moat,
Nothing gets in, but I'll still throw my shit out
Ten points if it hits, "Did you hear someone shout?".
There's a world out there loved by the God they despise,
Blamed for their woes "Never hearing our cries".
"Religion's at fault, it's the thorn in our side."
But failing to see the rainforests in their eyes.
There's a climate of fear - the world's getting hotter
Mother natures packed her bags- "Quick somebody stop her".
But it's too late for that, see mankind has moved in.
I'll save the world - but where to begin?"
"Where's God when you need him in all of this mess?"
"It can't be our fault, we've all done our best"
"Well, the proof's in the pudding, if God exists,"
"He'll come down from heaven and slap all our wrists"
But when that doesn't happen, you say "Life, how unfair!"
"It would be far better for me, if He really was there".
"I can't have a new stereo, fridge or TV",
"You see, where God is concerned, it's all about me".
So when the job doesn't happen, you're not as rich as you'd like
And the love you once shared turns to a sense of dislike,
When all that you'd wished for, doesn't come true,
Well there's no room for God, 'cause it's all about you

Another poem

"No way " said I
To one who cried
the mantra
For I knew more than he
So I believed

"No way" said I
to one who cried
in tear stained notes
of agony
And wept. And I
declared  "I know!"
So, I believed

"No way" said I
to the one who cried
"You doubt in me?"
"But why?"
The looked at me
with purest love and humility.
So I believed.

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Herefordshire, United Kingdom
Born in 1975, in glorious Devon. Father was a trawlerman, mother worked in a shop. Have never(within memory) met my father, dont actually miss him though. Spent most of my childhood and teenage years in Birmingham. Moved to Herefordshire when I was 18. Aimed to do A levels which I started, but had to give up to look after my Nan. Started work on a farm, met the other half, moved to his farm, the farm was then sold, bought a house, went to work on another farm as shepherd 1200 woolly bundles in my care, tripled at lambing time. Farmer could no longer afford to pay me, so now work in rural garage. Been going to Church again, and truly learnt to love God.
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