I have had somewhat of a break from WordPress and decided on this first day of Lent to reconnect with this medium by way of re-engaging and reflecting on what had been very demanding but stimulating past few months.
During the early part of 2015 I engaged in a discernment process which led to my appointment as Principal of Sarum College in Salisbury. You will see above an aerial view of the College. Saying farewell to Windsor was difficult and especially to a community and place that I had got to know so well. I carry with me many of the rich experiences of that place but especially the shaping and deepening of my spiritual life through the work of prayer, worship and service that characterise St George’s Chapel and much of the work in the College of St George. Although, as the months pass by, different perspectives emerge from those years there it is fascinating interesting to note how vivid, immediate and sometimes complex human memory can be. Put simply – some days it feels as if I’ve been here in Salisbury for ever and other days for a very short period of time. In this particular learning community there is a great deal to learn about transitions and change.
I’m grateful to my new colleagues in Sarum College for extending such a warm welcome. This is a good team of committed people giving of their best in so many different ways. The work of the College is very diverse and this places particular demands upon leadership. For a flavour of some of what we do have a look at our website.
I hope to be able to offer more reflections on particular aspects of our work but for the purposes of breaking myself back into the task of blogging I want here simply to offer a picture of the diversity of the community that I describe as enriching and enlarging. The core group of visitors this week are over 30 people gathered for a week’s intensive Bible study on the book of Ruth led by my colleague Anne Claar Thomasson-Rosingh. Her skill in reading the Hebrew Scripture and enthusiasm for digging deeply into its shape and meaning for us has led to some fascinating conversations in the refectory. Yesterday I had the privilege of meeting two new bishops from the Anglican Communion who are spending a week in the Diocese of Salisbury who are partners with the church in South Sudan and Sudan. They represent the global reality of Anglicanism and offer us all an opportunity to listen carefully to a very different context and experience of Christian discipleship.
Last night as I left the building a number of excited participants were coming for a session on our Theology Quest and Questions led by David Catchpole. This long-standing course offers participants an opportunity to reflect in some depth on the shape of Christianity and the subject matter to hand yesterday was the pondering of the parables.
So the week goes on with a lecture on the parish churches of Wessex, a book launch from a travel writer Harry Bucknell who will talk about his journey from Venice to Istanbul. The college on Friday will play its part in the launch of a major exhibition of sculpture by Sophie Ryder – well worth a visit to see these monumental pieces scattered in and across Salisbury Cathedral Close.
There are also all the hidden elements that make up the days here in the college. Visitors to the library, bookshop or those simply wanting some time out to think and to be refreshed. Clergy coming for support and supervision. Groups from the wider community who simply want to be here to connect with one another and relax.
I hope that gives a little flavour of what might begin to form a small part of this blog in the coming months. Please bear with me as I update one or two things and I look forward to renewing my connection with you. Here is a word cloud picture from one of my lectures with the Sarum Ministry Programme last weekend! I wonder if you can guess what the title of the lecture might have been?