Monday, November 21, 2016

Checking in

A photo posted by Alison Payne (@thisfoggyday) on

So it’s been over a month. There have been a lot of blog posts composed in my head, but they obviously haven’t made it out of there. At least you’ll all be pleased to know I am no longer tired. Well, there are days when it’s hard to get out of bed, but not TIRED like back then. That was weariness of a whole other order. I’ve since been getting back into running and a version of pilates at home and all is going well physically.

For some of the things I have blogged about in my head -

I’m not sure that I have mentioned here that earlier in the year I joined the committee of the Canberra Women’s Christian Convention. That's been a good experience and one of the best things was getting to know the other women on the committee. The grand convention was on the 22nd of October, so there were things to do and rehearsals and set up and so on beforehand. On the day I sat on the registration desk in the morning (seriously though people, if a conference involves seminar electives and lunch, please don't just turn up on the morning without registering – this is very unhelpful and takes time to sort out) and then I MC’d one of the seminars. I have never done such a thing and accepted with some trepidation, but I think it went OK, and I was glad I had a go at it (you know, life begins on the edge of your comfort zone and all ...).

Lesley Ramsay came down from Sydney to speak from the books of Acts on Speeches that Changed the World, namely Stephen’s speech in Acts 7 and Paul’s speech in Acts 17, and what they can teach us about evangelism. I had to go to the same seminar twice as MC, which was on social media and sharing the gospel. This was actually genuinely fascinating. Beth Webb is doing a Masters at Moore College and she covered unexpected things like what our bodies have to do with evangelism (body language as ~85% of communication anyone?). One of the main points I am still thinking on a few weeks later is how she pointed out that as human beings we are limited in time and space as to who we can interact with, and social media appears to allow us to transcend that and be everywhere all the time, but that as humans we don’t always do this well, and that we shouldn’t actually be worried about the fact that we are limited in who we can meaningfully interact with and simply fully engage there. She also talked about what community has to do with evangelism and how people often belong before they believe, which can be hard to do on social media, and how social media conversations often only harden people in their original position rather than move them. All things to think about. That might all sound like it was against social media, which it wasn’t, but essentially the conclusion was that social media is most effective at making a first contact with people, and beyond that you will have to do the face-to-face and community engagement.

Then on 5th November I went to training in Pastoral Care, run by a Chaplain from the Wesley Mission in Sydney. This was so so good. There were basic instructions and even role playing in how to have a pastoral conversation, which was just so helpful. One of the most beneficial things was how she stressed that pastoral care is not counselling. You don’t have to get the person anywhere. What you are doing is listening and caring, and you can leave it there, without feeling like you are responsible for solving the issue or moving the person to another place (which isn’t going to happen until they feel heard and cared for anyway). I think people hesitate over pastoral care and entering the dramas of others because they don’t know what to DO, so it was liberating to realise that you don’t actually have to DO anything. You can simply listen and show you care, then maybe pray (which is where the ‘doing’ comes in) and that’s all.

In other news, I have been going a little mad with native plants in my courtyard (I have now instituted a plant-buying moratorium and a period of frugal living, because I got a little carried away and went on some kind of spending spree a while back – the extra bank account for books turned into the extra bank account for plants, but Spring will do that to you). I now have a selection of paper daisies in pots in different colours. I love them because they flower so profusely and the flowers last so long (and possums don’t eat them). I also have a native iris, a trigger plant and a cottonhead plant, for some variation of foliage structure.

I am currently reading a collection of short stories by Wendell Berry, called That Distant Land, about the same community of people in the novels of Jayber Crow and Hannah Coulter. I am thoroughly enjoying it. I am a convert to Berry’s writing and his characters and his sense of community. I love those people like they’re family.

I’m also doing a music theory course online. In case you hadn’t noticed, I sort of dropped learning the guitar. But I think I started to get frustrated with it because I felt like I didn’t understand enough of what I was doing. Having only learnt a woodwind instrument, playing treble clef and doing no music theory, I did not get a good understanding of music as a whole (and the guitar was like starting again really because there is little overlap). So, I started at Grade 1 theory, which so far is like sucking eggs because I can actually read sheet music, but it has been a good refresher and will hopefully take me beyond what I know soon.

I have realised that I haven’t been on recreation leave at all this year, but only took the time off as personal leave back in August, so I am looking forward to having a holiday at some point (beyond the tour of the relatives at Christmas). The reality is that I had to take out a small loan to pay medical fees, which swallowed any holiday funds that may have existed, and once I knew I had to do that I just didn’t make any other plans, but I am hoping that by the second half of next year I can take a holiday (only I really need a new car, but I will get there eventually!).

The exciting thing is that they have given me a new hat at work, which is editor of the Anglican News, the newspaper of our Diocese. We are going to wind it back some and lower the bar of the one magnificent newspaper edition that came out earlier in the year to try to make it regular, but I am really excited about the opportunity and resurrecting some writing and editing work. I’m itching to get started but it’s been a little sidelined by an Ordination next weekend and meetings and documents we need to gather for professional standards matters.

That's most of the last month or so.

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