Thought I'd start with a bluesy sounding title, not because I have the blues, or have had the blues, but because I like the sound of the blues...
Anyway, my absence from blogging has had nothing to do with that, it's nothing more sinister than I have not got around to it. As someone prone to waffle it is something of a surprise, perhaps, that I've not been chuntering away on Blogger for some weeks, but having restated (below) my plan to keep blogging, it's just not been a priority in the past few weeks. Sorry folks, I know that there are a few people who faithfully return to check and chat and disagree and respond but I've not had the mental capacity to get around to blogging. Nor have I read the blogs I normally enjoy.
I have been busy, yes, but not over busy. Admittedly we had a run of funerals from mid July and they do take a fair amount of energy to prepare for and to do, as well as the time taken to visit the families, talk through the services with them, co-ordinate with funeral directors etc. And we've had some weddings, which have been great fun, but again time and energy consuming. And we've had some baptisms, quite a lot of them actually, which have needed various visits to parents and preparation etc for them (being a good Anglican I joyfully receive children for the sacrament of Baptism, and there's a whole world of discussion there which I am not even going to begin to address here :-) ).
Much of my time has been filled also with social events, in the past few weeks we have had 'Village Shows' which involve various intense competitions between fruit, flower and veg growers, we have had some fete's with the obligatory rain and cream teas (a Devon cream tea is one of the proofs of the existence of God, I believe), we have even had an evening of 'Terrier racing' - something rarely seen outside of Yorkshire, but a now long-standing tradition in the village of Yarcombe where nearly a thousand folk came to see these little dogs chasing a bag with a fox tail sticking out of it. I haven't laughed so much in quite a while.
So yes, it's been busy, but not the kind of busy that has engaged my brain - more the heart than the mind - so I have not felt inspired to write here. There have been a few things on the Internet that have got me thinking but then the moment has passed. And the reason for this heart focus is simple, and in its own way inspiring, and is the reason I don't actually feel guilty for my lack of blogging. I have loved being a part of the communities here and this has been a summer when I have been made to feel truly at home in these villages, truly welcomed, truly a part of things.
My character is such that I do just dive into things - sometimes without due regard for consequence - and this can be good and bad. I have been ploughing on since I got here, turning up to every event, meeting, service, pub evening, school events, etc etc etc which I have been physically able to. My philosophy behind this is simple - just to let people know that I am here, a representative of the Church and someone who cares about the villages just because that's what we do. I've not pushed any kind of agenda, apart from making my presence felt and supporting people when they have needed it. Of course, in the Churches I continue to preach and proclaim the faith that means so much to me, a faith I chose and continue to choose every day, one which gives me life and hope and love and joy, challenges my complacency and draws me to love others and love God with everything I am. I am happy to share that faith, and to speak about it, but more than anything to live it.
In the communities I am called to serve, though, my desire is to offer that unconditional love that is the foundation of our faith. Sometimes (perhaps often) the greatest gift I can give to people is just to shut up and to be there.
So I have spent the summer so far listening, enjoying, sharing, laughing, being. I have also been praying, singing, preaching and proclaiming - sometimes in Church, sometimes in the way I try to live. I don't claim to be perfect, or even good at it (this is not false modesty, we all screw up and I am prone to as well) but I will keep doing it. The offer of sharing and talking about faith is there, but I agree with St Francis of Assisi (again something I have shared before) "preach the Gospel always, and when necessary use words"
I hope I will get to blog again in the next few days. I am off on holiday soon and handing over our dogs and our vicarage to lovely house-sitters, I doubt that amongst the things they are kindly taking care of for us keeping up the blog will be a priority so if I disappear again for a few weeks it is because I am in France! Bon chance tout la monde!