That is not an order, incidentally. Just the title of a blog post, ya hear!
So, the news is out, dates are being carved into the tablets of time, and there is now work to be done. Sadly, I must have been ill when theological college did the 'Buggering Awf' class, because n'ere a book rests within my copious personal library that attends to the 'The Great Scarper'.
Actually, the truth is that the prospect of dis-entangling myself from so many things is a sad one to me. Leaving a ministry is tough I think (if it has gone well). I doubt I will get away with: "Well, that's me. I've left the files in the study. Speak soon and thanks for all the gin". It might be easier that way, I just don't know.
The funny thing is that stopping one ministry still involves moving forward. I am still engaging in new pastoral encounters with people, organising this and that, thinking ahead. No brown archive box with the picture of the kids and the pot plant for me! Oh no sir-ee. Public ministry means (I believe) involving oneself to a very deep level with the people with whom we engage. That means laughing with them and crying with them (with any luck at the same time that they are doing said things - bad ministry otherwise). It means pouring love into those chance encounters; prayer too. When those engagements conclude, we don't just turn off either. For me, I ponder those whom I have passed along the way and how they may be faring.
Priests are nomadic. The tied accommodation is something of a paradox, because although vicars are often associated with vicarages, we are always nomads. Our stops might be prolonged, but stops they be, and move on eventually we do. When the time comes to make the next long walk, there is (I am now discovering) an odd period of stasis. We know we are called to leave, but not just yet. It requires some considerable effort not to lose interest and cast eyes forward. I haven't fallen into that trap to date, partly because it will be so hard leaving this place. In a very very small way, this must be how it feels to succeed to a throne. Becoming the next monarch demands (normally) that one's parent has died. A good thing under-written by a very painful thing. The prospect of a new ministry is wildly exciting for me, all the while underpinned by the sure and sad knowledge that I will have to say goodbye to Aylesbury.