‘Lighthouse meets Tsunami’

Last weekend, Rachel Moore, TCT's Mental Health and Development Worker, was delighted to be asked to lead the 1st year curates Residential Weekend Retreat Day. Here, Rachel reflects on this years theme, "Who do you say that I am?"in the beautiful, thought provoking blog.

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As Mental Health Development Worker in the Diocese of Lichfield I am passionate about advocating for good mental health and flourishing in work, life and faith, and across churches and communities. I am only too aware that it is only in caring for ourselves and giving out from a rooted foundation that we are able to give of our best, receive from others, and in turn be able to work effectively for the long term, in the midst of global turmoil and turbulence. Therefore I was delighted to be asked to lead the first year Curates Residential weekend retreat day, comprising of 8 men and 8 women, at Shallowford House in Staffordshire.

The theme of the Residential Weekend was “Who do you say that I am?” We took time to meditate on scripture of Psalm 23, looking at how we are provided for in all circumstances throughout life, as well as on the words of Jesus from the Gospels of Mark and Matthew –

…He said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest”.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

We noted that as well as ministering to many people, Jesus also invited people to minister to him, such as asking the Women at the Well for a glass of water, and enjoying the hospitality at the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus.

During the Saturday retreat day I led four sessions on the themes of The Call to Come Away, The Call to Rest, The Call to Gather and The Call to Go Out.

Woven through the day we shared liturgy, song and prayer as well as paying attention to our posture and breathing and have time to reflect and rest. We spent some time exploring the experience and reality of commencing training during a global pandemic and lockdown, and the impact of this on our life, health, churches, communities and ministries.

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For one session we meditated on our signature and our name and the meaning of this. It was interesting to hear whether people liked their name, knew it’s meaning, liked nicknames, or derivatives (or didn’t), the history and inspiration of their name, how they came to have their name, and how it impacts on their sense of self and identity.

In sharing an item to symbolise their faith journey to date, people brought along items like maps and photographs, star trek memorabilia and snowflakes. It was humbling and inspiring to hear people sharing honestly and vulnerably from the heart about aspects of their faith journey.

I shared a wooden item made by my Grandad named ‘Lighthouse meets Tsunami’. I shared that sometimes faith can feel a very grounding, strong and firm experience joined with others in fellowship, but it can also be a gentle place when things feel fragile, vulnerable and overwhelming. Images like hiding in the cleft of a rock, or hiding in the shadow or under wings from the Psalms are helpful to me.

We reflected on how different people are called to ministry in different ways in different seasons. We looked at how people, churches and communities will have different responses to life events, and the importance of taking time to share stories and lament together. We thought about what it means to have and safeguard good mental health, how to have healthy boundaries, and at creating good support networks and a sustainable work practice.

Being a curate and a priest is a unique ministry, drawing on all one’s gift, talents, abilities and life experiences, in harmony with faith and values. I am thankful to each person who has been willing to respond to this call in such a profound way, to be people of hope in these changing and challenging times. And finally from Brennan Manning - “Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion.”

For more information about our wonderful curates visit https://www.lichfield.anglican.org/vocations-and-training/ordained-ministry/ordinations-2021

For mental health information go to https://tctogether.org.uk/areas-of-work/health-and-wellbeing

For more information about exploring vocation within the Church of England in the Lichfield Diocese go to https://www.lichfield.anglican.org/exploring-vocation/

Shallowford House is a beautiful 19th home, set in beautiful countryside, in the middle of the Lichfield diocese. It offers beautiful wildflower meadow with a walking labyrinth, firepit, chickens, goats, herb and fruit gardens, llamas and a family of peacocks. Cosy and comfortable, it is the perfect place to enjoy food and fellowship and some time to retreat. https://www.shallowfordhouse.org/