This month's Rector’s Ramblings is really “Rosie’s Ramblings” because it has been written by Rosie Homer, an ordinand from Cuddesdon who is working with us over the summer. I am very grateful to her for writing such an interesting article for you.
“Light up the fire and let the flame burn…”
These words, from a hymn we sang at several services across the benefice last Sunday, have stuck with me as one of my earliest memories - singing this hymn at my tiny Sussex village primary school assembly when I was four. Being able to sing those same words, after a rather convoluted journey, while on placement here with Priscilla and Jenny, in my final year of training for ordination, has given me much pause for thought this week: how much has changed, what unexpected twists and turns my journey has taken me on, and how I’ve ended up here. I’ve been doing a lot of looking back and looking forward this week. For instance, if you had asked a fifteen-year-old me what I thought about the possibility that several years down the line, after studying, living and working in five different cities, I would have just completed my second degree and now be entering my final year of “vicar school,” I would have found it hilarious - and totally bonkers. Clearly at that point I had not yet learnt the lesson of “expect the unexpected”.
What’s known in church as “calling” or “vocation” is something I think I have always felt important – having some idea of “purpose” in life. Who am I? What should I be doing? Even in my most cynical moments (and which still occur!) battling with ethical dilemmas of whether the concept of religion as a whole is, at best, illogical, and at worst, horribly misused; I’ve always been trying to figure out this question: “How do I, as a person, best fit into the wider scheme of things in the world – what is my little contribution to the whole?”
From a religious perspective this may suggest a kind of divine purpose for each one of us, or it could be viewed in a more neutral way as simply trying to find one’s place in society.
Ultimately, I suppose we’re all trying to work out, where is that spark? What part of each of us suddenly burns with interest, gets us really fired up, when we’re doing something that “just feels right?” It might take years to find – certainly in my case it was after barking up several wrong trees – but I have finally found it in everything a vicar is and does.
Saint Francis of Assisi wrote of his experience of feeling ‘called’ by God to “rebuild my church.” He succeeded – not just through physically doing up the crumbling old chapel where he felt this ‘call’, but in practical, loving action which embodies the life Jesus called his disciples to do – simply love one another – helping the sick and the poor, seeing all people as equal ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’… living in community, participating in our common humanity.
Just as “vocation” is not just a religious concept, it doesn’t solely refer to finding a fitting career either. It’s doing the stuff we do that places us in the world and connects us to others. There are so many other little, everyday ways in which we can find that spark by entering into that wholeness of the world around us. I was fortunate to watch the Brill school year 5 & 6 production of ‘The Lion King’ – and it was wonderful to see the children shining out as individuals to make up a truly incandescent whole… and their sparks of joy set us, the audience, on fire too.
So from one musical to another, I feel Bugsy Malone might give us some concluding inspiration to think about this month (and beyond):
“We could have been anything that we wanted to be; and it’s not too late to change. I'd be delighted to give it some thought; maybe you'll agree that we really ought…”