Friday, 29 March 2013

Happy Easter

Past, present and future

We've been out of the valley! The Rector@6 was summoned to Salisbury Cathedral for the 'Eucharist of the Chrism and Reaffirmation of Vows' on Maundy Thursday. I'll be honest and say that this wasn't my idea of a fun day out but it was a chance to get a lift to Salisbury. This was a 'must attend service' - unless The Rector@6 had a very, very good excuse. I, on the other hand had a choice - shops or Cathedral? I am so glad that I chose to go to the Cathedral. I sat looking up the vaulted ceiling and listened to all the praise and prayer being lifted to the roofs - as it had been for so many years in the past. Seeing all the clergy - the deacons, the priests and the bishops process through the cathedral was very moving. I am brought into the present when I see The Rector @6 pass by. How different from the six small rural churches that I will usually see him. What an unexpected place I find myself now in!

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Palm Sunday and The Donkey didn't make it.

We were reminded today that The Rector@6 and I have been here 6 weeks now. My blogging is still on the back burner as we are just so busy. This job of the Rector's involves so much talking - even for me! Everyone and everything is new - and that comes with hidden stresses. I am constantly asking myself if I should know the person's name? Have we spoken before? I have taken to answering just 'yes thank you' to the most frequent question of "Have you settled in yet?" We do still have boxes and builders - but perhaps they will just become permanent fixtures.

One of the problems of taking over a benefice just before Easter, is that many of the traditional services have been put in place by the 'holding' team. So plans for Holy Week, Palm sunday, Easter Sunday and Maundy Thursday carry the format that they always have done - but, of course The Rector@6 does not know this format. Palm Sunday was to involve a procession and a donkey in our village. Quite where they process or when (before or after the service) all had to be discovered. Where was the donkey to wait? Who picks up the poo (before someone complains)? What was the purpose - when the readings this year, do not mention a donkey - but refer to a colt - which is, of course, a male horse?

It has been wet and bitterly cold lately and, by chance, we happen to be on good terms with the lady who owns the donkey.We got the first inkling that things may not go to plan when The Rector@6 received a phone call the day before, from the donkey's owner, to say that her horse was probably about to foal and she may be otherwise occupied - as well as not being very well herself. A command decision was needed here as the donkey had to be cleaned up, boxed and trailed to the village - all in time for the 10.30 service on Sunday morning. So, at the risk of disappointing those who were only coming to church to see the donkey, - The Rector@6 cancelled the donkey. Such are the important decisions he has to make! And the foal did arrive in the middle of the night and the vet had to be called (mother and son doing well!) so it turned out to be the correct decision. There were a couple of disappointed children but some of us were secretly relieved that we were not going to trail behind the donkey in the bitterly cold wind! Coffee and a good chat seemed a very suitable substitution! I never thought I would be involved in stage managing a donkey - life does throw up some unexpected challlenges at the moment.

This is church number four. It was the old large key of this church that was used symbolically in The Rector's installation service - and it was this key that The Rector then put down and misplaced for 24 hours. The church has some beautiful stone carvings with song birds and foliage and an owl high above the pews. These are the designs of Thomas Hardy (author) as he worked for the firm that restored the church before he became well known as a writer.


Monday, 18 March 2013

The Knicker Thief - new life in the rectory

Our feet have not touched the ground since The Rector@6's installation last week. It was as if someone had opened the flood gates to the email and phone call rivers and in they poured - on the next day. This was supposed to be The Day Off but obviously it wasn't going to be this week. He resisted opening or answering many as we were busy seeing off visiting family who had come to stay for his licensing - but later in the evening it seemed as if messages were still coming in faster than he could open them. What a start!
" So how is it?", " Are you settled in yet?" we are asked by everyone. We have managed to empty all but three boxes but that is only to get rid of the boxes. Not much is in its final resting place. Life has been incredibly busy hence the reduced blogging. Last Sunday, The Rector@6 had three church services and I accompanied him to these so I could meet as many people as possible in a short space of time. We went from a very cold church and BCP service to a warmer church with a music band and a lot of youth input and finally in the evening we went to evensong in another rather cold church. All are beautiful places but I shall have to invest in some thick socks as the cold seeps up from floor level and reminds me of the need for a vest rather than more spiritual things!

It wasn't me!
Living in a rectory was always going to be challenging for me as I never liked married quarters when The Rector@6 was in the RN and I have discovered I'm not keen my space being invaded. You would think that after living in two church owned houses I would have got used to people popping in. But we have moved dioceses and so have a different property department. In both the last houses, the family space was respected - effectively the minister could have meetings in his space and the family could live in their space. Things are different here - people are used to coming into the kitchen and have been using the back door (partly because the front door was so difficult to close!) This is causing us some difficulty in training the dogs who are supposed to go to the kitchen when the doorbell rings ('supposed' I said!). I am also having to keep a tidier kitchen (which is probably not a bad thing ). It is the lack of understanding that I am not actually employed by the church that I find difficult. I am just me - the same as I was before the Rector became church property - I have not had a conversion course on being Mrs Rector. If I have piles of washing lying on the floor waiting for the washing machine, I don't really want people coming in the back door. Tess the pup has decided that knickers are the best items to snatch from the wash pile and, if the doors are left open, will run off round the house and then leave them in the front porch or hallway. I suppose people will politely learn to turn a blind eye to the goings on in this Rectory (I hope!).

I actually have had an excellent first week of being Mrs Rector - I have been with horses three days - just mucking out and helping with a foal. I have also had my first morning helping at a Riding for The disabled Group. It was such a lovely morning so I am now signed up to help once a week. I have my first task for a creative writing course that meets in the local library once a month. I keen to build up my own life because, if this week is anything to go by, The Rector@6 is going to be out quite a bit and meetings are often in the evening. He has been surprised by the number of Trustee responsibilities and committees that he is apparently expected to be on and that had not been mentioned before. He is busy carefully sifting these.

We are finding time to walk the dogs but only in our immediate area - it is a great way to meet people. Our world was magically transformed by a heavy fall of snow on Sunday. As The Rector@6 had his first service in the local church, we could enjoy the transformation that occurred. Had it been a little colder and the snow a little firmer, I could see the advantage of our sloping back garden. It has potential as an excellent sledging slope - so long as you can stop before the back door!

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Fully collated, Inducted and Installed!

What is a collation? I had to look it up when I read the order of service 'for the Collation, Induction and Installation' of The Rector2B.  It sounds rather like something to do with boiler services and I am still uncertain as to why it was a 'collation' but despite that, it was a very happy evening. After the beautiful weather we have been having, Dorset chose to blanket us in fog for the evening. The fog did not stop the church being full of friends from North, South and Mid Devon who had chosen to travel some distance to share the evening with The Rector2B. Our house was full of family and this made it a very memorable and special occasion. Now the rectory is beginning to hold our memories and this helps to make it feel like our home.

The service was full of symbolism as The Rector was led round the church after accepting the 'cure of souls'. He poured water into the font, was presented with a bible, a Chalice and Paten, rang the bell and on being Inducted and Installed, his hand was placed on the church door before being given a large church key by the Churchwarden. The Churchwarden said " Receive the key of the church in token of the responsibilities which we share." - On Friday afternoon, this churchwarden was knocking on our front door because the key had gone missing and they couldn't unlock the the church that it belonged too!! (You will be pleased to know that it has since be found.)

The Rector@6 and his sister outside the church where the service took place.
It was such a happy evening - I felt so much better than I did at his Ordination as Deacon - then I fought back tears, wondering what the future held for us and thinking that I was losing my husband to the church and losing our future together. This time, I felt a completeness - and I was in no doubt that we were in the right place (however scary that seems at times). I am learning to live 'in the now' and to expore the opportunities as they open up. The battle to get the rectory updated has been fought and, while we still feel bruised from this, it is time to settle and put down roots. I am planting out the garden that came with us in pots. I am adding the new plants from The Rector's sister and my sister so that I can look out at the garden and know this is where we truely belong (for now).

The Rector is no longer 'The Rector2B' but has become 'The Rector@6' as he is now the rector to six rural Dorset churches. We are looking forward to getting to know them all.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Looking further, delving deeper.

Tomorrow evening The Rector 2B will become The Rector of this Dorset benefice. That's it then - I will officially be a Rector's Wife. I didn't think that I would end up as a rector's wife (very Joanna Trollope). Vicars and rectors do basically the same job today and the different names stem from how they were paid many years ago - I think. To our son's Australian friend, 'rector' was an unfamiliar title and so the title has been the butt of many jokes!
I'm learning about living in a rectory - people drop in "just for a few minutes" or "a quick word" - which are usually neither a few minutes or quick! As The Rector 2B is frantically trying to put up coat hooks, fix draughts, move cupboards and....tidy study before he starts officially, these visitors can be quite time consuming. The visits have also brought a couple of other problems to our attention -

1. The dogs do not like the new door bell. Chaos reigns as we try to get to the door while the dogs (led by the Collie) race to the door, sounding like the Hounds of the Baskervilles. Some visitors have been heading down the drive by the time we get to open the door.

2. The Rectory Front Door is extremely temperamental - making it a battle to shut. The property people have put a very expensive new lock on it but I came down in the middle of the night to find the door wide open. I made several attempts to slam the door shut (which must have sounded like gun shots echoing up the pitch black road) and tried some gentle persuasive shoves - to no avail. The door has a mind of its own and swells and shrinks at will. This means that the lock can be in the right position one day and not the next. The door also is very good on hot days as it well vented along the top and the bottom, through the joints and the hole in the bottom panel. I'm sure we will appreciate it when the weather turns warmer .

The walking and the weather have been fantastic - we are discovering new paths all the time. We are so pleased to find that we can reach high points very quickly, and on clear days, we are rewarded with magnificent views over the countryside towards the south coast. It seems lighter and brighter even on grey days and we feel that we are treading ancient routes - long ago used by travellers between the villages. Now we see very few people - the occasional walker or rider but mostly we have the countryside to oursleves. We pass thatched cottages and pretty churches - six of the churches being The Rector2B's responsibility. After the one in our village, the next nearest church, is this pretty Victorian church which was built at the expense of the estate owner. It is not situated in a village and only has a service once a month. It has a wonderful plaque on the tower with shields and a helmet and sword that is reminiscent of 'when a knight won his spurs in the stories of old....'

We are beginning to appreciate what a beautiful place we have landed in  - again! England really is a spectacular country to explore.
It's all very exciting!