Friday, 5 October 2012

Yes to No, Yes to Yes and No to Yes

Courtesy of Freaking News
Peter Piper picked a perfectly perverse portrayal of parish performance that peaked prior to the parousia. Red lorry, yellow lorry - why? Because she sell sea-shells on the seashore and why the devil not. 

Now, that was not the Glossolalia (mostly because it isn't 10.32 on a Sunday when the Holy Spirit puts in an appearance) - no this is the perverse and utterly random beginning to a blog post that can be considered the Sequel to yesterday's.

There is a curse, a bedevilment  a hidden ghoul - that lives in parish life. Get it right and you have a life that is well balanced and healthy - but get it wrong and watch your spleen pop with the stress of it all. 

The thing about priesthood is that it is often populated by decent human-beings who thrive on doing the very best that they can to save the whole jolly universe. In a very sincere and loving way, us members of the priesthood are utterly convinced that if we are not involved, the entirety of God's Ineffable Plan is for nothing and the fabric of all Creation falls to its tatters. Most priests, when not supping Gin, will bust a gut to help you, to make your life better if they can, and will consider it jolly poor show if they fail to make the Sun shine brighter for you. It is how we are made, ya hear!

So, on a Monday: can you do that Vicar? Yes, of course. Tuesday: could you so this Vicar? No problem, I can do that. Wednesday: Vicar, we need that - would you oblige? My very life is lived to serve you, so of course I can. Thursday: So-and-So has an emergency verruca situation; could you visit? No worries at all, it'll mean that I miss my lunch, but as it is a real emergency, I'll be there three minutes ago. Friday: Vicar, the bins are full and floor needs sweeping, but I have a pony to stroke and a Yoga Class to attend; would you? That'll be fine, my child - who needs sleep anyway? Saturday: I am sure that you are busy, and I know you have a family, but could you whitewash the tower and re-hang the bells? Do you know, there is nothing I would rather do than serve you in that way, and anyway - the wife always forgives me and the kids have forgotten what I look like anyway. Sunday: You will preach well, and meaningfully won't you Vicar. And then  take it in the neck when I am a bad mood. And pick up the pieces of the mess I leave behind me when I stroll out of the church. And all that? Nothing would give me greater pleasure, and after all this is what God called me to do. Innit. 

Obviously I do not have a parish like that, obviously. The scenario above isn't so much applied as created - not by the good people of the flock, but by the trainee Messiahs who collar-up for the Lord. This is my problem. I don't say 'No' enough. 

This year has been characterised (or perhaps even sloganised) by me as the year when I say 'yes' in the broader sense. Bridges are built and old relationships restored by virtue of that approach and the place feels better for it being in the middle of the community it serves, not on the margins. The "Yes - No" balance is as tricky to get right as it is fruitful when that balance is made. If the Vicar gets it wrong, s/he either expires under a flurry of worthy intention, or else ought to pack up and leave having chuffed everyone off. 

Guilty! I have got it wrong, and I am too available too often. And then, oddly, because I am too available, I become unavailable at the wrong times when I am really needed. See the problem? Me too. 

Anyway, I must sign off - the dog has scarpered with my cincture and falls, and is about to eat the tassels! I will leave that image with you. 


  1. I'm sure that you have boundaries, you just stretch them a little to far. The tightrope that you walk daily must be quite blowy, swaying from side to side, just waiting to tip you off. Good job it's not in heaven, but firmly planted on earth.

    I suspect that lessons have been learned (or relearned) in this first year of your ministry, which may or not change the second. But I'm sure that your parishioners are blessed to have you there and might just be taking a teensy, weensy bit of an advantage of such an affable, available, WILCO Vicar.

    NO is needed sometimes, perhaps more subtly than outright NO, it might need a tactful perhaps, or maybe another time, rather than an outright NO. But it will and does work.

  2. So say "yes" to time with your family, "yes" to time spent in contemplative prayer...



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