I am now 4 weeks in to a new way of working. It’s hard to reflect and to know what to write because what is happening is slow and due to that it is pretty tough; but that’s not a bad thing (and neither do I feel negative). The toughness at the start of a new mission role (and probably all mission) is just a fact of life. Mission, in the main, is not exciting as many like to write and believe, it is simply heartbreakingly slow work. I remember 4 years ago saying that I was bored, lonely and not sure what to do …. well I am simply at that stage again.
It’s not comfortable but I think it is necessary and right to enable stuff to happen.
I am finding that it is a real effort to get up and go out each day to be available to people. I guess in Rochester the requirement to be at Morning Prayer helped to provide structure in that it gave a clear start to the day. Without that structure the role is quite a lot harder. It’s not enjoyable, it’s not exciting and it is simply just ‘bloody hard work.’ I do not know where to go each day, I have no idea what will happen, who I will speak with (if anyone) and on days like today when it has been raining virtually non stop and people just want to get out and back home quickly it is nearly impossible to engage with people. This ‘trudge’ that I am experiencing at this point in time is what many people I have spoken to over the years experience as an everyday reality in their particular jobs. For me, this is a necessary phase or stage to go through. In many ways, although it is a tough and uncomfortable place, I really value this time. I value this time, because of its harshness, because this is a time when I can learn and get a greater understanding of what is going on around me, within me and how God is working in this community.
The big temptation now, for someone like me that loves to achieve ‘stuff’, is to start something. Gillingham is an area where lots of things are needed and could work. It would be fairly easy to start a new project or a new mission initiative. A month of observing and watching seems like an age for someone like me …. yet it is far too short a time to try and understand what is happening.
I believe the wrong thing to do now would be to fool myself into thinking that I have observed enough and that I am now in a position to know what will work here and try that something out. At this point in time I long to get my teeth into something and immerse myself in activity but, if I am brutally honest with myself and others, I have not yet got a sense of what God is doing here and neither do I have that understanding of how this community works. That’s actually bigging up my current level of knowledge; I have no idea what God is doing here or what I should be doing! If I started something now I would be regurgitating or bringing up old ideas that I had seen work elsewhere. That sounds to me like puke church! I must avoid that at all costs … we simply don’t wish to go there!
I am lost, disorientated and confused. I have followed many paths and lines of enquiry and conversations only to find myself back tracking and being even more confused. I look out across the area that I am called to work and I do not recognise it and nor am I able to describe what I see in any meaningful way. I am simply lost in the town I have lived in for the best part of 25 years. (It had changed massively in the last 4 years which is another reason to continue to watch and understand!)
So, I continue to search. As I search I am mildly encouraged by these words of Richard Rohr: ‘The Way of Jesus is not about rushing to the ‘right’ destination. The way of Jesus is a way of bringing the kingdom of Love to the reality of this present moment, through the Way we travel, through the Way we are, and through the Way we are with God’
It’s pretty clear that if that is correct, and it makes sense to me, that that will take a fair bit of time. If you are the praying kind …. I need to gift of patience!