I mentally wrote this post in the shower this morning (if that isn’t too much information for you) and I still want to write it, even though the day has intervened and popped any sense of delight which I might have had standing in the shower. Sadly, it will no longer sound quite the same as it did in my head, as my sense of wonder and amazement has been swept away by other things. But, that keeps me humble, so I guess those couple of hours of delight will [have to] be enough.

Saturday evening was such a lovely service – much more relaxed than last year, and though I have genuinely no idea who stretched out their arms towards me, it’s wonderful to be able to see my sending ‘vicar’, the cathedral chaplain and my incumbent on the photo.

Keith Blundy photoThere were plenty of friends and others I knew in the clergy coven, some who I hadn’t realised were going to be there, so I’m guessing and hoping there were a few others reaching out for me too. So many people made the trip from the parish – and the choir director taller than those around her turned around beaming was one of the first things I saw on the way in. My family the last pew to come forwards to our nave altar station at communion meant I communicated them again, as last year. Special opportunity. The faces of the deacons-to-be seated on the front pew, smilingly supportive every time we looked – and such acclamation from them in the affirmation question to the congregation. Looking forward to spending more time getting to know them. All memory box moments.

Keith Blundy photo

Keith Blundy photo

We knew, some of us, just how amazing the oil of Chrism smells, having been the oil bearers at the Chrism mass. The sentence which accompanies the anointing isn’t in the service sheet, which is kind of sad, but kind of nice – it was a moment of terrific power. Amongst a less-than-catholic cohort (and less-than-catholic parish), there was no rush for blessings as in many of the first masses I went to last year, which made those particularly special.

Keith Blundy photo

Yesterday, nothing fancy, nothing extra, just our ‘normal’ service, with the exception of Tom preaching (beautifully). So it was green – which meant my new stole under our Trinity chasuble, to preside. How did it feel, asked Tom (other Tom). Genuinely? Like I’ve never done anything else in my life. Complete. Right. ‘What I was made for’?

green

Did it feel different? Did it wipe away the strange sense of non-identity from earlier last week? Well, yes. More than I’d expected. It felt complete, somehow. The stoles which looked peculiar and struggled to hang straight after being ribboned together for a year suddenly hung perfectly. The words I’d wanted to have off by heart and hadn’t had chance to learn suddenly prayed themselves. It was lovely, said the old ladies in the congregation on the way out – were you nervous? No, actually. The vicar turned a page for me he thought I’d forgotten. I hadn’t. The invitation to communion was the St Columba Darlington learnt Iona/Methodist one I adore, not least in ecumenical tribute to Tom. Half the congregation can’t see me in my stall round the pulpit, but the vicar doesn’t think that matters. All in all, it went and it went ok. ‘Beautifully’ said Tom, though regular readers would hardly expect me to own that for myself…

And then I rushed off home to sort out prayers for Evening Prayer and messed up the reading by not clarifying who ‘he’ and ‘there’ were – ‘firstchapteritis’. Just to keep me entirely human ;-) Lest I in any way were likely to think I was something I was not. Fetching tables and putting them up during the drinks and nibbles had already done that, to be honest, and I wasn’t feeling hugely special anyway.

But this morning, standing in the shower after being up for an hour trying to finish a funeral address, it hit me. Looking at the photos didn’t tell me anything the pressure on my head hadn’t told me, or the words or the promises or the anointing with that amazing fragrance. But it hadn’t completely sunk in. The privilege of individual blessings made a massive impact on me. Great privilege also to kneel before two of my biggest companions in crime the gospel from the last year.

Keith Blundy photo

But as I stood in the shower, in a way that I haven’t exactly ‘looked forward to’ or ‘waited for’ and certainly not gloried in over the weekend, the one phrase I had never imagined myself saying 5 years ago echoed through the water: I am a priest. Sounded odd in my head. Slightly incredible. But beautiful.  Not odd. Perfectly right. Complete. Looked down at the water running over my hands. We hadn’t had to wash off the oil, it soaked in. So it’s still there. Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow.

Forever.

Amazing.

I am a priest.

It sounded strange yesterday to hear Tom say in his sermon ‘the woman who will call you to Christ’s Table…’ I had to blink. That was me. Yes, really. Because it is me, now.

I am a priest.

tom and me

me and bishop

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