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So, what’s all this sabbatical about? 4 July 2016

Posted by Dr Moose in Faith, Life, Role-Playing Games, Sabbatical.
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Navigator BlooseLife is full of ironies, and I’m not referring to the way that the current United Kingdom news is largely indistinguishable from satire. Instead I have in mind a phrase I had in mind when presenting my proposal for a sabbatical, which ran along the lines of expecting to probably blog more as a result of it. Technically I suppose this is true, in that this is the first post of 2016, and therefore an improvement on the first four and a half months before I started the sabbatical (and like some politicians I didn’t actually promise anything, well, about blogging at least).

I’m now into the last fortnight of the three month sabbatical – two weeks today I’ll be back “in harness” and I’m looking forward to it. I suspect that I won’t be able to fully process the experience until after it has finished, and knowing the way I think, I’ll probably have some gentle regret about whether I’ve used it well, but that’s just me!

I’ve been privileged to go on not one, but two retreats (impressive, considering that the last one I went on was in 2010, which makes me a very naughty clergyman!) The first was a week into the sabbatical, at the most hospitable Sheldon for their “12,000 Mile Service”, a chance to unwind, relax and meet others (under the restriction of “No Clergy Shop Talk” – which is remarkably difficult!) Then last week was “time for something entirely different”, a visit to the Roman Catholic Benedictine Abbey at Ampleforth in North Yorkshire for a “Tai Chi and Christian Meditation” retreat. Both of these really require separate blog posts, which still might happen, but not yet.

I’ve also had the opportunity to travel, and combine it with a marvellous Role-Playing Games Convention, in the form of EternalCon, which is an annual event in Germany (no link as the web-site appears to be down, sadly). Not only did I get to play games and drink German beer, but I also acted in my capacity as a Christian Minister to conduct a Blessing and Thanksgiving for a 14 month-old child, whose parents are gamers who met through the Con. As if that wasn’t enough I then got to drive across Germany to visit my godchildren in Berlin, who I baptised at the same Con in earlier years (I really should tell the Bishop in Europe…) and stay with them (and their parents, of course) for the best part of a week!

I’ve tried not to ignore the family, and we had a very pleasant week at a Haven caravan site in Tenby, West Wales, for the school half-term, the first summer half term family holiday in a number of years (the last one was a trip to Northumberland, before I left the parish). It’s nice to have hit that age with the children that means we can leave them alone for a few hours without worry.

The last few weeks have been a little less full, although I was pleased to be able to visit and talk with friends and colleagues (one memorably at Warhammer World in Nottingham for the longest conversation I’ve had with the friends for about 15 years!) These have been about the more theological aspect of the sabbatical, my study, or more correctly, reflection. Those of you who know my way of thinking will realise that now I’ve reached about 500 words you’ll get to the point of this post, so I’d better not disappoint you! Despite having done a modest amount of reading, writing and thinking already over  the past weeks, I’m now in the week that I’ve set aside as a “Writing Week”, staying over in the apartment at Saltash. I can’t say it’s a totally distraction-free environment, but I have the gift of solitude and quietness – the occasional train is far more preferable than the road noise of home.

I have four whole days here. Four days to use wisely (and not simply to look at the scenery, go shopping or visit the swimming pool – although I have brought my swimming gear). What do I want, or need, to get done? This post is an attempt to be ‘publicly’ accountable. For my theological reflection I’ve been working around the theme of what I actually do at Role-Playing Games Conventions that arises from my ordained ministry. I’ve loosely used the title of “Chaplain to the Con” (and even have a tee-shirt bearing the phrase “Continuum Community Rune Priest”). This week I want to produce something that does justice to the reflection process, exploring whether and what it is as Chaplaincy, where it connects with the church or mission or evangelism, about whether I can take lessons (or better, good practice) on to other ministers in different spheres. I’ve also got some reading material that might be relevant (and I have the possibility of blagging my way into the library of the University of St Mark and St John here in Plymouth). I don’t intend whatever I produce this week to be the last word on the topic, far from it, but my notes and thoughts need to be corralled into some sort of more cogent form. I’m still hopeful that there might be a monograph, short book, or even an MTh. thesis to rise ultimately from this (I’m open to offers, readers!)

But now, or at some point soon, supper is calling. I hadn’t expected to write anything today after a four and a half hour drive (albeit in a rather cute little Fiat 500 hire car), but I’m not going to complain about chalking up a thousand words or so. Bloose BalconyYou never know, you might even get a further blog post tomorrow…. presuming Bloose doesn’t demand to be taken out the visit the sights!

 

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Comments»

1. BenDQ - 4 July 2016

Looking forward to seeing what emerges! Great discussing thoughts when you visited, have provoked me to think hard along similar lines.

Dr Moose - 4 July 2016

So… no pressure then! I think a 3 way conflab with Mark VS might be in order.

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