I am writing this post in the light of Vic the Vic's tribute to the Mr(s) Vicarages that support us priestly types in our lives. I promised him that I would take up the cause of his call for Sunday to be declared Mr(s) Vicarage Sunday - though I have broadened this to include the testicular-enabled vicar's wives, those chaps who support their lady vicars too.
Because my gorgeous wife hates me using her picture on this thing, I am afraid you are going to have to cope with this image, which is as close as I can get. It is a poor substitute, of course, but I just have to have a picture.
Public ministry is a funny old thing. For us who do it, it is often the very best of lives. We gad here, we gad there, we gad everywhere. We work funny hours and almost certainly more than we have to. We live in 'the office' which is to say that to all intents and purposes, our front door is that of the business address. The telephone rings at odd times, day or night, and rarely for our spouses (who have wisely arranged that all their incoming calls go to their mobile phones). When we have a fit of hospitality, it is on her settee that it takes place, with her cups and drinking her coffee, and without her say-so. Yes, she smiles and yes, she is gracious, but she would have preferred to have got dressed first.
Then we vicars have a bad day. Only then does the real work begin for our Vicar's Wives, as it is then that they become personal counsellors, motivational therapists, family liaison workers, personal secretaries, firewalls, bouncers, door-keepers - and so much more. We vicars can up-sticks and toddle off to some monastery or other after a bad day and reflect, while our Vicar's Wives become baby-sitter and single-handed child-entertainers.
Then we go out somewhere, for a nice evening out as a couple - like the old days. Not a moment after we have taken our seats does the procession of goodly local folk who know the vicar start, a queue forms, and an extended form of pastoral ministry is meted out at the table while the spuds go cold. Their vicarly husbands or wives are public property, always working. Or their Vicar partners take them to a nice party, and promptly abandon them while they work the room.
So, it is with all this in mind that I second Vic the Vic's proposal that this Sunday be known as Mr(s) Vicarage Sunday, and that we in Holy Orders should put aside our absorption of glory and acknowledge that most amazing person who sustains and supports us every moment of every day and tolerates our mini-Messiah Complexes with much grace. Lest we forget, without them we are nothing and as vocations go, that to our spouses trumps all others save for vocations to parenthood.
And to my beloved Jo, the eminent and faithful Mrs Acular - thank you for just about everything!