People, who have been more kind that I was expecting, have said “Congratulations on your selection.” Of course, I reply politely and take their excitement as a compliment, because it is after all nice to be congratulated, and I have it on the vicar’s authority that people are happy they have produced a training candidate (even if some of them think I am friend of the anti-Christ).

But… my inner pedant is wondering why ‘congratulations’ feels wrong. I suspect this could be filed under ‘over- thinking.’ But. I didn’t do anything, except show up. I didn’t purposely choose this as an idea about what would be next in life. I didn’t have to learn the right words, or read the right books (although understanding how to articulate what ‘vocation’ looks like certainly helped). So ‘congratulations’ just feels wrong – as if I have passed a test or handed in a thesis or done something specific which needed skill or judgement or talent. I don’t know what else folk can say, though – answers on a postcard. I’m not suggesting that this isn’t a significant milestone or that I am not pleased I was accepted: it just doesn’t feel like a moment I want, or ought, to take pride in.

A non-church person described this as a career change – they said “wouldn’t mind a career change as well but haven’t got the courage to do it, so I think it’s great that you are going for it.” It was too complicated to try to explain why it doesn’t feel quite like that. At times I feel completely uncourageous – even quite simple things feel like they will be taxing (‘I have to learn new bus routes’) let alone the Actually Important Big Stuff. I was trying to imagine life without the backdrop of the familiarities here, and it was a bit tricky. I’ve been counting the days left at work (81) – but I won’t get to 50 ParkRuns before I move…I tell myself that everything is all mixed up, that the many uncertainties take their outlet in trivialities…that once there is an approximate shape to what’s happening & I can be completely open about it, I’ll stop worrying about the Amorphous Everything, and importantly, I’ll be well on my way to trusting Him Upstairs.


  1. Interesting. A friend was recommened for training a bit after you and I said something along the lines of ‘congratulations, if that’s the right word’. She was happy that it was the right word, but like you I found it a bit weird. But I couldn’t think of a better one. I think the feeling is that being selected is a positive change and ‘congratulations’ is our default word for marking that.

  2. I guess people say congratulations because they want to say something supportive and don’t know what else to say. I’m sure, however, that you do know the sentiment that they are trying to express. So thank them for their congratulations and accept that sentiment in the spirit in which it is meant.

  3. I recounted a conversation with a newly selected ordinand rather less articulately over here:

    I think “congratulations” was more firstly “wonderful that the Church has recognised your call” and secondly “congratulations on surviving the process (this far)”. Continued prayers as I am in awe of anyone who can look down the barrel of the ordinal and not flinch.

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