Saturday, 23 November 2013

In the Rectory dog house.

Our Tess was a year old last month. She arrived in this world just after we knew that my husband's first incumbency was going to be in Dorset, so she was named Tess - after Thomas Hardy's 'Tess of the D'Urbervilles'. She is the daughter of our collie and has the same loving nature as he has. Living in a rectory affects all members of the family, including the dogs. They have had to cope with long periods of being shut in the kitchen when there are house groups here. It is surprising how many people don't like to share their seat with a large, ungainly collie or a wriggly pup. Those longing gazes that watch every mouthful of biscuit eaten with the coffee, and the inevitable dribble that lands on shoes, just doesn't appeal to some of our visitors.

For other visitors, they provide a wonderful distraction, or comforter through difficult times. As the Rector@6 and I grow into our roles, so do the dogs. Recently they have been learning to sit quietly in church when they come with us to morning prayer in the church. I'm rather proud of how well they are accepting this. Tess does insist that she sits next to me on the pew and Jed lies at my feet. It is surprisingly reassuring to have them there....when they are quiet. Unfortunately they haven't quite got used to the idea of other people joining us and will emit loud resonating barks if the church door opens. This is not good practise!

The canine numbers at the rectory  have doubled recently. We are dog sitting two vicarage dogs from Hampshire, while their owners visit family in Australia. In a moment of generosity, the Rector@6 and I offered to look after the two dogs. We thought that with our nice, large garden and being surrounded by open countryside, we could offer them a home from home. We have made it to the end of week three! I'm not sure who is the fittest - but regular walks must be  taken by both the Rector@6 and myself because neither of us can manage four dogs on our own. This was a little thing that we failed to realise when we made the offer. So come rain or shine (fortunately plenty of the latter) we are tramping over the stubble fields. We have found that these two visitors are not like our collies. They come back on most occasions then suddenly one disappears across the field, or into the hedge, despite our frantic blowing on the dog whistle. For the first week, I expect the village thought there was a man hunt or police emergency because of our frantic tooting on the whistle from across the fields. We had been assured that both dogs came back on two bursts of the whistle - well our Tess does now!
The pheasant shoots have started around us now so we have had to keep clear of all the farms where this happens. We have had to keep clear of all hedges, rivers and woodland. But we have managed to have four dogs who all respond to their name and usually return for a titbit and our Tess thinks she is in seventh heaven!  She will miss them when they return home next week. We will not miss the Labrador instinct to role in anything smelly and then saunter away laughing at us. And I have to admit that one of our visitors (no names here) a thief! So far we have lost: - a pack of butter, a frozen apple cake, a mixed box of left over party cakes, a third of  Tess's stored dried food, bread and the vegetables being put out for compost heap. She can delicately pick the remaining apples from the low branches of the tree and shares them with all the other dogs. At least she is getting plenty of fresh food to supplement her dried diet!
It has been quite an experience - our Jed is not impressed with his harem in his house and I am afraid to say, has cause a couple of 'incidents'. We all still have all our fingers and the dogs have all their ears but two of them keep a wide berth of each other and will take every opportunity to curl a lip across the room at the other. Fortunately, it is only in the house and they can be walked off the lead together, without problems.
If rectory visitors thought we took a long time to get to the door before - we take twice as long now, as each pair of dogs needs to be put in their respective beds, before we open the door. Otherwise our visitors may be sent hurtling backwards down the steps, as four black dogs come flying at them! We haven't had many visitors lately (the continuous barking at times, or the loud shouting, may have deterred a few).

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Spiralling around life.

It's interview time for the Rector@6 - time to answer to the big boss. After six months, new incumbants get an entry interview with the bishop to discuss how things are going. A little while ago, one very good friend asked me how it really was for me and I declined to answer then, but now, I think I can. Things are slotting into place - I don't feel settled but I don't feel unsettled - so I suppose that is good. I miss Devon hugely but I am getting to know the area around us a bit more. Because we have been running back to Devon when we do have some time off, this has prevented us exploring our new surroundings as quickly as we might have done. I have been unready to rent out our Devon home and we have needed somewhere to escape from the telephone. So we have kept our house and done some very necessary repair works on it - and God has done some necessary repair work on me! We have been approached by a family who may be interested in renting the house after Christmas - and I know that it will be the right time to let it go.
Following the format of the Rector's interview, I will put my side:-
My Wellbeing.
The house is an on-going annoyance - there is still work to be done on it, some as a result of the quinquennial inspection, some because things were not kept in good order or finished properly. It has made it difficult to really settle and hopes of changes to the bathroom or kitchen are completely dashed so I will continue to sport burns on my hand from our badly sited oven. I have to accept the 'that will do' attitude but it doesn't endear me to stay here - we have owned our own home for too many years to accept this.
I haven't looked for a new job as yet - but I have ventured out into the world of horses and I am learning all the time. Almost exactly a year since giving up teaching, I am back in the local school as a volunteer. I shall see how that goes.
I'm tired and I miss weekends and two clear days to play - we miss days off quite regularly and because I have commitments, the Rector@6 can't just change the day off at late notice because something comes up, and expect to spend it with me. We haven't got this right yet
We like the parishes and the parishioners (which is fortunate) and we are getting involved in various local activities - including the pantomime.
My New Post - Rector's Wife
It wasn't included in the Rector's job description and I didn't intend being a full on rector's wife but it is hard to avoid. There is just so much to do and so I am now acting as the Benefice secretary to try and help the Rector@6 get to grips with the parishes.
How do I feel about this ministry after 6 months - well I certainly wasn't born to it!
My Induction
I have hardly met another vicar's wife. I don't think there is anything for spouses - or at least I haven't heard about it yet. Dorset is very good at keeping secrets. Perhaps I'm not looking in the right places. It would be good to meet others who know what it is really like behind the rectory/vicarage door.
My development
I 'get' the rural living but not the 'eating, sleeping and talking' church all the time. I remember life before this
and I miss it. I miss laughing - thank goodness for the pantomime group, my dogs and a good bottle of wine (this is not cause for concern...yet!).
I have found I can organise craft workshops. I would like to sing and play more music but I am worried about standing on people's toes. I'm learning that I am seen as being useful for feeding information to the vicar (in a roundabout way) - so I try not to get too involved.
I'm also learning that:-
I can't really have an opinion.
I can't get too involved with only one church.
It's not a good idea to have bright ideas!

I feel my life is spiralling around - revisiting uncomfortable places with a more open mind, returning to the world of education and learning new skills in old hobbies. I have started building a spiral pathway in our garden to mark this stage (and to remove some of the moss ladened turf). I find I can escape the world when I throw myself into a new garden project (- I will keep you updated on the progress) - and I do need to escape at times.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Remembrance Sunday

        We Shall Keep the Faith

               by Moina Michael, November 1918

              Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,
              Sleep sweet - to rise anew!
              We caught the torch you threw
              And holding high, we keep the Faith
              With All who died.
              We cherish, too, the poppy red
              That grows on fields where valor led;
               It seems to signal to the skies
               That blood of heroes never dies,
               But lends a lustre to the red
              Of the flower that blooms above the dead
              In Flanders Fields.
              And now the Torch and Poppy Red
              We wear in honor of our dead.
              Fear not that ye have died for naught;
              We'll teach the lesson that ye wrought
              In Flanders Fields.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

A Night for Services of Light and Ghost walks

Well, we have survived our first season of Halloween in the village. As far as we are aware, no eggs were thrown and no flour pelted at unwary villagers or our door.  But then, it would take a brave soul to venture up the rectory path, which is some distance from the road. If they made it through the darkness (we have no street lights in our village), our security light would have blinded them as they reached the front door, thus setting off the rectory dogs in a frenzy of barking and clawing at the door! We are a friendly rectory!

Halloween and its increasing commercialism is worrying. The growth of this as a 'festival' is often blamed on America with 'trick or treating' being adopted as one of our 'traditions', but as John MacArthur says in 'Grace to you':-
"The name "Halloween" comes from the All Saints Day celebration of the early Christian church, a day set aside for the solemn remembrance of the martyrs. All Hallows Eve, the evening before All Saints Day, began the time of remembrance. "All Hallows Eve" was eventually contracted to "Hallow-e'en," which became "Halloween.""
I have always believed that we should have an enlightened approach to Halloween. Leaflets written by J. John, have been placed in our churches that set out six reasons why Halloween is not harmless.
(An outline of this is linked here.) No one handed them out or engaged us in discussion to make us think about them. It is important that we think about how we respond to this. As a teacher, I saw the build up to fireworks night (Nov 5th) celebrated in school through art and drama - remembering Guido Fawkes attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605, - how unsavoury is that celebration? Now, with all the health and safety regulations, the family bonfire night is declining. It is as if, with our clocks going back here in the UK, the darker evenings encourage the need to party, to celebrate, to get together and have fun. Halloween is the next date on the calandar - the evening before All Saints Day. For Christians to be superstitious about the evening, makes it too important, Light will overcome Darkness. This excellent clip sums it all up.

 So, in our village on All Hallows Eve (not Halloween), the drama group laid on a ghost walk which involved people being taken around the village and stories being told..and then 'things' happened. There was no attempt to say these were true stories and The Rector@6 accompanied the walk in his yellow jacket. It was drama and ended with a bowl of soup in the pub and a music band and a lot of laughter. The Church remained lit up as a place of light in the darkness. It was fortunate that the Service of Light had taken place an hour earlier in the church. It was a case of the two groups in the village not being aware that they were running two events on the same night. It had been a well attended service and gave people a chance to light a candle and remember loved ones who had died. The Rector @ 6 was at both events. The real problem of Halloween is the thuggish behaviour that results from unattended young people roaming the streets. If more emphasis can be placed on the value of Light in the world, if we could celebrate this with fun and laughter as well as respect, I think the world would be a better place.