Yesterday, an insightful woman asked my what my inspiration was, quite uninvited. Here is my answer.
Yesterday was a day which I recognise as one that will take place with a regularity for which I should not be surprised. It was a day when the fragrant Mrs Acular and I sat before those who had had the the care of our children for the much of the last three years. Yesterday was their 'Report Day' as they start to make the transition from nursery to school.
Three years ago, we delivered to Aylesbury Day Nursery two nine-month old infants. They had just mastered crawling but not walking, could grasp and hold but not much more. They had yet to acquire their trademark curls or the spirit of partnership which characterises their existence. Then, two fairly immobile blobs spent their first day in 'The Setting' and yesterday we learned something of what the professionals think of our little girls. We sat in near-tearful amazement when we heard of their reasoning, creative and artistic skills. We reveled in their ability to count, to form recognisable letters, to problem-solve, to relate to others, to respond appropriately to strangers, to be warm tender human beings, and most importantly, in them being who they have grown into. Our babies are now little girls, inquisitive, vital, polite, generous, considerate and compassionate. I thank God for the life they have been able to lead so far.
But things are going to change. Shortly, they will go to school and an entire phase of life changes. This mirrors that changes that are affecting their parents, as I bring to a conclusion something which has been as rich and forming as nursery life has been for them. Mrs Acular, sadly, has to bring something wonderful to an end - her present job. That things end is so hard, and part of all of us senses a slight resistance to the overwhelming changes that await us just around the corner.
Wider afield, the world of social media is awash with those blessed with new ordained ministries, or the development of an existing one. I send my blessings and prayers to them - and a gentle reminder that they are some of the luckiest people alive. As a reader of this blog said elsewhere over the last few days, there is nothing that amplifies ones own sense of calling more than the affirmation of the callings of others through ordinations.
So, my nursery days are drawing to their conclusion. There await some wonderful events where my family and I can say our 'goodbyes', and the hardest thing of all to contemplate - my last service in Aylesbury. I need to prepare a sermon for that and I am not sure quite where to start, or if I can ever hope to finish. So much to say, so little time. My wife and I chatted a little about how life is for me now when compared to life before ordination. The world is possible to me in a way that it never was before, and I know in absolute terms that I am doing what I am meant to be doing with my apportioned years.
So, @Goannatree (the lady from Twitter who asked what had inspired me yesterday), my girls and the grace and excitement with which they are facing their transition - that is my inspiration. It's all in a day's work for them, this life-changing change stuff. I don't want to leave one place and yet I can't wait to start in another. It's a funny old time and so little of it makes sense on an emotional level.