Identity crisis

7 02 2011

I’ve been trying to work out what this blog is for.  Whether it is a “ministry” blog, a “spirituality” blog, a “travel” blog…  or something else.  When I started the blog I imagined that I would write about what I was learning on my sabbatical.  Those posts were more about ideas.

Now I’m in Beijing.  I still spend plenty of time thinking about theology, spirituality, ministry, meaning.  It is the nature of this vocation.  Of “being” a priest or a chaplain or a pastor.

As I’ve said before, I’m an introvert.  It takes a long time for the inside thinking to make it’s way out!  And there is so much to learn having arrived here.

There are the day-to-day practical skills.  Where to put your rubbish.  Where to buy laundry liquid that doesn’t make you itch.  How to go to the post office.  How to get a transit card.  How to put money on your card.  How to buy electricity.

There are the being in China things to learn.  How to be polite.  How to manage walking in big crowds (bumping isn’t rude, hardening against the bumping so the other person bounces is!).  How to squeeze yourself into a subway carriage at rush hour.  How to shuffle along in the big crowds when transferring lines (I like to imagine myself as a penguin: I’ve learnt not to take big steps, not to swivel my shoulders too much, to hold my ground and at the same time go with the flow!).  Not to mention the attempt to learn a little language (4 hours of classes a week is so little yet so much work at the same time).

We are learning a new congregation.  It’s culture and rhythms.  It’s in the Northern Hemisphere.  The school year is different.  The holidays come at different times of the year.  It’s an ex-pat congregation.  People travel.  There is a 30% turnover in membership every year.  And it’s an ecumenical congregation.  17 denominations represented in the last survey.  There are people to get to know, issues to understand, a story to find out way into.

We are also learning how to be co-pastors.  How to share the work.  How to structure the week.  Our different rhythms of working and resting.

It’s really a lot.

I find myself craving silence.  Longing for a Quiet Day.  A retreat.  I’m hoping to make one at the end of March.  At least for a few days.

So this blog…  Well, it’s a personal blog.  The personal blog of a pastor in a new place, an amazing place.  With a new congregation, a new role.  In new cultures (Beijing…  ex-pat…  ).  So the travel anecdotes,  occasional theological quote or snippet, the living…    I guess that’s just how it will be for the next little while.  Your questions or comments are welcome.

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9 responses

7 02 2011
Mary Beth

Welcome to RevGalBlogPals! I introduced you at this morning’s Meet and Greet. Look forward to reading you!

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8 02 2011
exilicchaplain

Thank you Mary Beth – I’ve enjoyed your blog for a long time and already read many of the Rev Gals’ blogs. Finding ways to feel connected to the community of women in ministry feels even more important now that I am in a city with no woman colleagues and a long way from my usual communities of support.

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8 02 2011
Emma

wow, what a massive journey. I like the picture of you as a penguin in rush hour commute. Emma, new follower via revgalblogpals. http://llmcalling.blogspot.com

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8 02 2011
Lilian Nattel

It’s a textured blog. That’s the term I heard someone use to describe mine, because it isn’t simple or simply focused. I like the texture of yours.

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8 02 2011
exilicchaplain

Thanks Lilian. I love your blog too!

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8 02 2011
jharader

I’ve similarly struggled to “define” my blog. Finally decided, like you, that it is personal. Sounds like you are on a wonderful spiritual journey, and I look forward to reading more. I’m planning for a 2012 sabbatical and would welcome any thoughts you have on sabbatical planning as well.

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9 02 2011
Jan

Welcome to RevGals! I always like meeting another introvert. It will be interesting to read about Beijing.

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11 02 2011
susan2009

Welcome to RevGalBlogPals. I am new as well.

My blog is a confused jumble with no clear direction. But it works for me as an outlet for personal and “work” stuff.

I enjoyed reading about your journey to China and look forward to more posts.

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11 02 2011
exilicchaplain

Thank you RevGals for your welcome. Writing about who we are and what we do seems like the best way to be part of a virtual community: however focussed or spacious our blog-style might be!

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