Thursday, January 24, 2008

An appointment, a ceremony and a stroll

The doctor this morning wrinkled his brow at the rise in my blood pressure, which was 'normal' last visit - and I've had a holiday since. We both said "Job stress?" Not good, and I have to take note of that. He said, not for the first time : "Have you thought about working half time? Is it possible in your line of work?" I tried to explain that the appointment of Vicar in our system doesn't admit such a notion. Clerical incumbency is an all or nothing role - just like you can't be slightly pregnant or half married. There are other kinds of church jobs, even job shares, but changing how spiritual leaders are deployed among parishes is not on the review agenda, apart from assigning care of several separate communities to a single pastor when there aren't enough to go around. If there's simply too much to do (which for anxious or zealous clergy there always is), you have to learn to do less, or die if you don't succeed. Team-work, mutual support amongst clergy seems beyond us, whether by inclination or by lack of policy.

I've tried to change my lifestyle over the past year. This is such an interesting environment in which to work, so many opportunities and challenges that it's hard not to attempt too much. It seems my body is not coping with as well as it should with this, no matter what I may think, no matter how much I may be appreciating what my work presents. Well, the doctor still insists on a monthly visit from me now, and I comply. I don't want to go back to where I was eighteen months ago, and I don't want to become a liability. Sad really that the church only understands all or nothing. Maybe too many alternatives is too costly.

After the midday Eucharist I attended the annual Holocaust Memorial ceremony in City Hall. Canon Peter Collins was there representing the Archbishop of Cardiff. I didn't see anyone there representing our Bishop. I get an invitation in my own right, and Fr Stuart Lisk who runs the event is an Anglican, but it's not really the same. I wonder nowadays if civic leaders and religious leaders ever really have opportunity to meet properly as a group with the welfare of the city in mind - or is it all now to be done through surrogates. If they do, I suppose I should know, but I don't, and never hear it commented upon.

For once the weather was decent enough for Clare and I to take an affernoon walk up the Taff Trail to Llandaff weir. The river was in full spate after all the recent rain, and the dank riverside air smelled of carbolic - a hint of tolerable pollution? I reflected that the Rhone flowing out of Lac Leman in the centre of Geneva doesn't smell like that.

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