Saturday, 7 October 2017

I am an ordinand...WHAT?!



I would have uploaded this ASAP but our college house has not had working Wifi so I write to you now from a week into being here at Cranmer Hall, Durham.

As you can probably tell from the title of this post, I'm not really very relaxed about being an ordinand. It's still weird, and scary, and unbelievable, after such a long time getting here, actually being here doesn't feel like it should be happening. Surely there's another hoop to go through? Surely I'm not truly ready to claim the title 'ordinand'.

The implications of coming to train are vast and varied, and the thought that I am actually going to be a priest is only one. New city, new house, reduced money situation, being away from my friends, taking all the opportunities available to me, being a student again, living with other people again - it's been exhausting dealing with it all at once. I'm lucky that I've moved a lot over the last few years, so the move is less dramatic, but there's still an emotional wrench of moving from the south east to the north east, with a different rhythm to the city, learning to find my way around, not living on my own any more, not using public transport every day...oh, and the temperature. I am a delicate English rose, and working out how much clothing I need every day, investing in thermal underwear, and finding out where nearby sells electric blankets, all makes for a tad more stress.

I've already fallen down in my self-care. I failed to remember how I know I operate, that I need intimacy with God, with close friends, and with myself, to balance my mental health into a good state. Plus this week has involved a lot of meeting people, forgetting their names, and working out which ones will be more work to get on with than others, which is a drain even on an outgoing extrovert like yours truly. So I had a slightly emotional night last night, which I am in the process of remedying, so no harm done. But lesson learned, the hard way.

We've had introductory talks, a prayer day in the cathedral, a day of lectures from a world expert on Thomas Cranmer, a college freshers' fair (I signed onto the mailing lists of LGBT+ Soc, FemSoc, and the theatre society), many cups of tea in the common room, and matriculation when I was thrilled to have my first outing in a cassock and used my cloak to boot.

A lot of the induction this week has been like any other university - like the police officer telling us not to take drugs, and the fireman telling us not the cover our smoke alarms with clingfilm - just with more Christianity, and advice/info being spoken into our proto-clergy situation, like the dual nature of our focus, that our academia is merely half of our time here, and our spiritual lives take as much precedence. This of course echoes ministry, giving us good practice.

I will be honest, the academic side terrifies me. I was pretty good at school work, though not essays, and this is my first degree to do 'proper' essays, as opposed to the self-reflective ones from my previous degree. Doing reading, spending time in the library, it's all alien and I'm not confident in my own ability to do very well.

At least I'm on the way to making friends here. The house is finally settled, with only an ice cube tray to source  (for the gin and tonics you understand). I like the fact that I have an uphill 15 minute walk to college everyday, and morning prayer to do, evening worship to join as well. I've managed to arrange a space in my room for my prayer stool, so I can kneel in front of my small standing cross. I'm being good with my diet, taking heed of the warnings against 'the Cranmer stone'. I'm also damn pleased to have my comfy armchair in the living room!

Blimey. I am an ordinand. We'll see how this goes.