Monthly Archives: January 2013

I never wanted to be a Bishop anyway ….

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Well it’s a good job, isn’t it? Although I did have a few weeks of considering being a) a Missionary and b) a Nun in my teenage religious phase. And I do think I would make quite a good vicar. I would probably be more in the mould of ‘A Vicar of Dibley’ than the Anthony Trollope variety, but in my book that is no bad thing.

Dawn French as The Vicar of Dibley

Dawn French as The Vicar of Dibley

This week the Church of England decided that it would be ok for gay male clerics to become Bishops. The proviso is that they must be celibate. In this country the law of the land allows gay and lesbian people to have civil partnerships and legislation may soon be in force allowing us to marry. However the Church is prepared to state that even gay clerics already in Civil Partnerships must be willing to state they are both celibate AND willing to repent of any ‘homosexual acts’. This week comments have been made that the church is obsessed with sex.

As a woman the door clanged firmly shut on the possibility of becoming a Bishop within said church some months ago.

I don’t know where to start but I have to start somewhere and for now what I am going to do is write about it.

My partner and I had our Civil Partnership celebration almost 4 years ago surrounded by over 100 of our closest family and friends. We had the most wonderful day of poetry, promises and music. Singing and dancing, food and friends. Yes it was a civil ceremony. But it was as deep and meaningful as it is possible to be. If you stand up in front of your friends and family and make promises and declare your love to another human being and you have an ounce of soul I defy you to experience that without a spiritual connection. Love itself is a spiritual connection. Sex is a spiritual connection, or should be.Why would anyone want to limit that and insist it be celibate?

I don’t care for myself whether we can be ‘married’ or not. I couldn’t be more married, and another ceremony or piece of paper won’t change the feelings, the committment, the ‘for better or worse-ness’ of our relationship. But I will defend your right to that and honour your wish for it whoever you are. Together we have supported each other through life and death situations, illness and recovery, we are proud of our complex extended family. On Christmas Day this year 13 of us sat down to dinner together. The missus and I, my 4 sons and 2 partners, their Dad ( Mr W) and his wife, her son, daughter ( with bump)and partner and his ( Mr W) mother. And 2 dogs. We alternate who hosts Christmas and have done for years. In previous years my mother, his mother and my mother’s gentleman friend have all also been there. I don’t tell you this to make you gasp, although many do. We have worked this out between us with a lot of love, tolerance and good will. And the success of it all is a tribute to everyone involved. Today we all sat round the table to have a birthday tea for son 3. It works. It’s love.

Most of all it sums up to me that of the two emotions Love and Fear, Love will always drive out Fear. Right now it seems to me that the Church is caught up in Fear. And they are not the only one. It is the Church I know. The one I was baptised and confirmed into. The church my parents were both buried through. I love that church in some ways. I love the language and the music and many of the people. I am not a member of that church any longer and that is for more than one reason. But from time to time I go back, or I have done. On Christmas Eve we went to a Carols by Candlelight service and it was beautiful and festive and yes, spiritual.

But I am not going again. I’m sorry. I love you, bless you and let you go. I will no longer behave as if it is ok by me that you dismiss, disrespect or just ignore the heartbreak you cause. It is not love. It may be religion but it is not even Christianity as I understand it.

One day maybe this will change. But not until you are willing to listen to love.

For me personally I have another spiritual home. I haven’t made a formal committment to it yet, although I probably will. But it is a home that is willing to listen to the voice of love. I am not there just because I am welcome as I am, but it helps. I am not there just because I can be there with my missus and be acknowledged as a couple, but it helps.

Me and My Girl

Me and My Girl

 

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Birds in the sky ….

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Birds in the sky --- you know how I feel

Birds in the sky — you know how I feel

Sometimes ‘the road less travelled’ is the path that is the most interesting. Today I took that literally. One of my emotional survival mechanisms is to take a break from work and have a walk. I can’t do it every day but when I can I always feel better. I work in an industrial midlands town so I love finding parks and areas of green and water whenever I can. From canals to lakes the industrial landscape gives so many opportunities for beauty. This half hour walk took me past a lake created at the foot of reclaimed ‘slag heaps’, the bi-product of the mining industry now long gone. Since the 1980’s when the mines closed down much of the land has been revitalised and made into areas for play and recreation. The same is true of old railway lines, now cycle paths and walkers and wildlife paradise. Don’t get me started on the politics though.
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Today I changed my usual route which is to walk round the lake and followed the path that goes away from the water. It climbs to the top of the hill where a hidden secret football pitch lay green and empty. The views across the city are of high-rise flats and housing. The light was golden on the hill and the blue skies were a welcome change from days of rain. I felt grateful to be alive
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It made me sad that in leaving the bustle around the water’s edge there is a slight feeling of anxiety and wariness. Down below children are on scooters and bikes, teens crash around on skateboards and dog walkers and families watch the birds and throw bread for them to swirl high in the air. Away from the crowds I meet surreptitious couples with rangy lurchers, a man carrying a bottle and reeking of alcohol, broken glass and the unmistakable signs of drug use. I don’t mind walking alone and I know how to look confident when I walk but the thoughts still creep into my mind when the people I pass look shiftily at their feet and none of us make eye contact
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Coming back down the other side of the lake the sight of children watching a man fishing is comforting and looking up into the sky through the silver birch trees I breathe a little sigh of relief and head back to work.

Fish in the sea you know how I feel ...

Fish in the sea you know how I feel …

Only blue skies

Only blue skies

 

The sound of water

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Hope

Hope

It’s over. Christmas is gone for another year and there is that piece of me that heaves a guilty sigh of relief. Time to get back to ‘normal’. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and friends. And I love spending time with them. But I love to be alone too. I like to take a walk all by myself even on a rainy day like today. Seeing buds appearing on the brown twigs.

The sound of water

The sound of water

Not many people are out today. It is a day for getting back to work, but the schools and colleges are still on holiday so the town is quiet. A group of teens play football in the park and some lone dog walkers go by. Not many people just walk to town for the sake of it nowadays.The shops are quiet. Trying to find a birthday banner is hard, the card shops are full of half price Christmas wrapping paper and cards.
I have a coffee ( decaf and Americano as I’m trying to give up the cappuccino/latte habit!) in the cafe and hang my coat on the back of the chair opposite to dry. It is a secret pleasure to pull out my book ( The Snow Child) and read for half an hour with no-one to talk to and no need to be anywhere. As I walk back through the town I am almost tempted by the buses or the taxis in the taxi rank but I am trying to walk more so I carry on. Birthday banner and cake are in my bag for son 3 whose birthday it is today.

On the walk home the brook that runs through the Lyme Valley is high with all the rain there has been the last few days. It runs fast so you can hear the sound as you walk by. One of the joys of walking is noticing what is around you. I am not an iPod walker, not plugged in to sound. I like the sounds around me, the sensation of being present. Mindfulness in walking.
Coming back down our little street I am grateful for the sight of home. It is nice to be grateful for the sight of my own front door and the prospect of a rest and a cup of tea.