Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Oh, Hawaii

I had a bit of a shock at a recent clergy conference. A diocesan colleague, a fellow curate who was a year ahead of me at the seminary, announced he was moving soon. He's been offered his own parish and will take on that new ministry in a couple of months.

It was a shock, because it made me realise how short one's time as a curate is. Oh, I know I could spin it out for years if I really wanted to, but that wouldn't be me. When I felt called to the priesthood, I had a clear vision of taking on the challenges of a parish as soon as I felt properly prepared. Given that I'm a bit older than the average curate, that gives me two main reasons to feel there is no excuse for delaying: the first is, being older, I have a lot of transferable skills from the work I've done previously ... I'm seeing that already working as a curate. In a lot of areas I'm not starting at the bottom of the ladder – I'm often quite high up (even it I do have to jump across to a different but parallel ladder!). The second thing that really gives me a 'push' to move on sooner rather than later is just being older: I really don't have time to waste!

I'm still a long way from being ready to move. And when I do move, the current plan is stay in the diocese I'm in – it's a really good diocese and I feel very comfortable here. It's also where I grew up, so I have a lot of friends and family here. Those are all good, if not compelling reasons, to stay if it is possible. A far more important one is that I want to be fair to my family. I've moved them around a lot in the past few years. They need a bit of stability in their lives.

But … it's still hard not to look at those websites that list all the different places in the world where one might serve as a priest in Anglican Orders! Hong Kong! Australia! New Zealand! And given that I've already spent a large part of my life in the US (and even did a placement with TEC while I was training) I thought I might take a look at what was on offer in America.

My first thought was Arizona or New Mexico – the clean, dry heat of the desert appealed (or is it just one cowboy movie too many?), but nothing seemed to be on offer. Then, glancing idly down the list of states, one seemed to spring out: Hawaii … Ooohhh!

Now with a personal mental image of the state firmly rooted in Elvis movies and old TV shows (Hawaii-five-o and Magnum - now that dates me doesn't it!) it was impossible not to take a look … which is always a danger! Even the name of the church on the website seemed to speak to me: St Christopher, patron saint of travellers. With as much travelling as I've done, it's difficult for me not to think of him as a good guy (even if he might be what's technically referred to as a legendary saint – so what? It never did St Brigid any harm!).

I had to stop looking at the parish profile after a while – it was all so tempting I was in danger of drooling over my keyboard. The place looked gorgeous and the people sounded fabulous (ok, what else would you expect from a parish profile – but even if there is some hype, it's still Hawaii!). Worse (from my point of view) was that as I read the profile, it seemed that I could be just the person they're looking for - in my own mind at least! But they do want a communicator who is good with money and can reach out to the military … well if a former military broadcaster and tax inspector doesn't tick those boxes, I don't know who does! My wife and kids would forgive a certain lack of stability ... it's Hawaii, after all! Friends and family? They'll visit! It's Hawaii! All those other reasons I mentioned for not wanting to move - well, I did say they weren't compelling ... at least not as compelling as Hawaii!

As I said, it's all too tempting. And as St Alphonso di Ligouri always said, it's always best to avoid the things that tempt you (or words to that effect!). So I closed the page … and to even further remove myself from temptation's way, decided to write a blog entry on the lovely St Christopher's in Hawaii … I know that not many read my blog, but maybe the right person will, the person who is meant to go to that place. If that is you, what are you waiting for? Start Googling now & get thee to Hawaii! Once the position is filled my temptation is gone! (Look, I'll make it easy for you – here's the website: http://episcopalhawaii.org/ordained-ministry/positions-available ). And if it's not for you, maybe you can think of someone who might be interested - pass it on.
But it is kind of scary to think that the time is fast approaching when I'll have to start looking at parish profiles seriously (and in the unlikely event my rector or bishop is reading: relax - I'm not going anywhere yet & even then I really do hope to stay close!) . That the comfortable little bubble that is curacy will soon be burst and all the problems of a parish will land on my doorstep. Scary, but in a good kind of way. It is the reason that I pursed the long road of being where I am now, a priest of God's Church. So pray for me, if that's something you feel you can do. And pray for the fabulous people of St Christopher's, that they'll get the rector they need soon.

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