I have been more silent on this blog than intended. I have quite a few posts in draft form but not yet ready to be published. There will probably be a whole rush of them before too long.
This week marks the halfway point of my study leave. As I was warned by colleagues, the weeks are whizzing by and I am getting much less done than I expected. Still I have done quite a lot, even if I haven’t converted all those things into posts here yet.
I’ve been over to Liverpool and seen some of the city churches there. An excellent resource since it’s very tourist-focussed.
I ventured out onto the wolds and found Thixendale church, which has benefitted from some heritage lottery money and has a really interesting presentation of the church.
The kids and I went to the Greenbelt festival and had a brilliant time. I heard Gordon Brown speak brilliantly on the campaign to end poverty. I also discovered several new musicians (new to me anyway): especially Grace Petrie and Siskin Green. We got to hear Milton Jones doing stand-up – excellent. I also discovered what a great festival Greenbelt is for young people – there was stuff there to appeal to pretty much any interest.
In the last couple of weeks I have spent four days looking after my sister’s new kittens. They have adopted them from a local kitten rescue place and gave an undertaking that they wouldn’t be left on their own for too long during the day.
Snufkin and Jaffa, both 3 month old ginger toms, have been captivating my attention for large parts of the day. It is tricky to get work done while they are sitting, purring very close to my face. This is all contributing to the restful element of study leave.
I’ve been wondering what it would be like to be just a Christian rather than a Christian leader for a while. Some people have expressed surprise that I’m still going to church even when on leave. I’ve been enjoying the restfulness of sitting in the congregation with nothing to do. I’ve picked out a local parish church to go to on a Sunday morning – they have been very welcoming and I’ve appreciated the preaching from the various people they have leading services at the moment. It has also been good to be at church with my Goddaughter, who recently moved to the city.
My spiritual director recommended a resource called Journey into Freedom. This is a Lent course from a few years ago that uses an Ignatian approach, along with art, to assist an ongoing journey of prayer. I’m slowly praying my way through this.
Kittens get in the way of knitting, so I’m not as far on with my current projects as expected. The socks are finished and I’m onto the final 14-row chart of the big lace project. Only 14000 stitches left to go!
J and I did manage to get over to Yarndale, where I have replenished my knitting supplies for the coming months, and done some Christmas shopping for me.
Becoming a Canon
Earlier in the year I was rather overwhelmed when I got a letter inviting me to become a Canon and Prebend of York Minster. The installation was mid-September. After a month away from work, it felt very odd to put the dog collar back on again, but it was a lovely service. The weird legal traditions and liturgy are always a sight to behold. I have since made use of my new stall (Givendale) in the Quire when worshipping at evensong and I have a shiny new badge on my preaching scarf.
Reading – work-related
I began my reading with some texts on heritage. First, a background historical text about how the legislation around heritage has developed (“The Heritage Obsession”), then an introduction to Critical Heritage theory (“Heritage: Critical Approaches”). I have now moved on to the theology of place using John Inge’s book “A Christian Theology of Place” as a starting point. While staying over in Liverpool, I skimmed through Stephen Cottrell’s “Dear England”. I probably need to go back and read it again more slowly.
Reading – free-choice
It is such a joy to have time to read freely. I haven’t kept a note of everything I have read but I have been making full use of my library card and e-book app. I’m near the end of the Reykjavik Noir trilogy by Lilja Sigurdardottir. Next up is a recommendation from a parishioner: “A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting”.
Current re-reads are some Mercedes Lackey and Jean Auel.
I also got a copy of Ben Macintyre’s book on Colditz, thanks to a book-token present from a friend. I inherited all the books about Colditz written in the immediate post-war period from my grandparents. This book offers a more balanced view of the accounts, bringing to light the blindspots and prejudices that were glossed over in the original books.
One of the first things I did on study leave was to browse my work bookshelves as if I was browsing in a bookshop, looking for things I have bought and then never had the time to read. I’m off on retreat next week so I’ll be taking some of them with me.
One of the things I am trying to do during this leave is to build some good working practices so I don’t overwork when I get back. I had got into the habit of working full days and evenings most days of the week and then using my day off solely as recovery time. I have started a course called “Daycrafting”, which meets once a week on Zoom and is introducing a series of tools that can be used to, as the name suggests, craft your days in a way that leads to a fulfilling and sustainable working pattern. You can find more about it here. This particular course is run through the Heartedge network and is aimed at people in ordained ministry. The general approach would be useful for everyone.