Float like a butterfly

I’m off to the Lake District for a couple of days to do a retreat with a group of clergy in the first three years of ministry. I find that these events always leave me in a state of some confusion in my relationship with my own experience. Faced with the bright-eyed and freshly-minted enthusiasm of those who are only going round the treadmill for the first or second time, I sometimes feel like a tired old hack. On the other hand, one of the reasons why ministry becomes more difficult is that you become more aware of the challenges – you set the bar higher all the time – less aware of yourself and more sensitive to the context, I think. And of course, as a bishop I have the clarity of mind and purpose which comes from those who don’t have to chair the Easter Vestry/Annual Meeting any more.

Lines attributed for some reason by Private Eye to Idi Amin

‘Float like a butterfly, Sting like a bee

I am the greatest, God bless me’

Still – if I find myself in difficulty, I’ll fall back on my mantra. Never a dull day in ministry. Lots of anguish, pain, distress, frustration. Much of it at the hands of the church. But never a dull day. And there is still the ‘lump in throat’ stuff – young couple at the Communion Rail this morning with their baby. It stood out all over them how much it meant to be there as a family – but neither they nor I could begin to put it into words.

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