Sunday, September 20, 2009

Back to college

Not only has the new school year started but the academic year for the Yorkshire Ministry Course has begun with their first residential of the year: an induction weekend too for the new starters. I knew it was this weekend and had not given it a great deal of thought until Saturday morning brought me a text from Young Mike. “It’s not the same without you. Missing you. Can you sneak over here for a beer?” I can’t begin to explain how that text cheered me, so I did. I arrived at the police college at 8.30, was recognized by the officer on reception and allowed in and went straight to the bar. It didn’t feel at all odd to be back. I met Revd. Steven, Revd. Tim and Revd. Barbara who were the only ones in the bar (those tutors eh? What are they like?) and chatted happily until the students began to arrive from their prayer groups. I spent two hours with the remnants of my old year group and a very happy time was had by all. It was a really enjoyable social event: I got hugged a lot, I got to tease Mike mercilessly and Barry regaled us with his flow of consciousness joke stream.

So, a vicar’s son was asking his dad: “Why do you kneel down before you give your sermon in church?” The dad replied: “Well I am asking for God’s help.” “So why doesn’t he help you then?” That sounds like a good sermon starter. I must try it sometime.

“A new Pope is consecrated and he surprises his senior Cardinals by demanding time in the Vatican archives to reacquaint himself with some of the church’s oldest doctrines. He demands privacy. Twenty four hours later he has not emerged and, mindful of the instruction to be left alone, the Cardinals reluctantly agree to investigate. They find the Pontiff weeping over an ancient scroll, inconsolable. Eventually they manage to calm him and are able to question what is wrong. “The scroll,” he sobs. “The scroll.” It says celebrate.”

No? I got it and then had to spell it out to some of the others. This is why I have already graduated and they have not. Dr. Bob would have got it, what with him being a fan of the Catholic Channel.

As I drove home I felt unaccountably sad and berated myself for not understanding why. Was I never going to see these folk again? Of course I would. They’re all in Yorkshire and I can pop in to social time at residentials again any time. Was I missing the student experience? No. While I always enjoyed the residentials I have no desire to be back and plan never to write another essay in my entire life. I think I have closure over graduating. So what was it? In the end I concluded that it is because I still have unfinished business with the church over what happens after graduation and a lot of uncertainty about whether it will be resolved.

NB: When I googled "Wakefield Police College" for the photo at the top of this post, the first photo on offer was a picture of Dr. Bob and I in the bar above the caption "Wakefield Police..."