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.