Michaelmas Term 2014

So… regular blogging is not, it seems, going to necessarily be a feature of life at theological college. I shall add it back to my to-do list for January and see what happens. This will be a bit of a roundup of what happened in my first term, or at least, that which I can remember – September seems an awfully long time ago.

Once I moved out of Batty Towers I spent a fortnight in Haslemere with friends. Lots of sleep, walks, fresh air, and peacefulness helped recovery from a slightly fraught couple of weeks. There was a side trip to Austria, which was much fun. Being with friends who had been through the transition to college meant there were many useful conversations and a fair few silly ones too. Eventually 27 September rolled around and it was time to pack everything into Jan’s car and take it, and the bicycle, to Cambridge. There was also a camper van full of bed and Kenyan Archdeacon as a side issue… and then I’d arrived. As had a horrendous cold. So the first week was harder work than it needed to be, because as I was trying to get to know new people and new surroundings I really rather wanted to be in bed… but I survived, and routine started to happen. Morning Prayer at 0740; Evening Prayer at 1800; remember the differences for Wednesdays and Thursdays… get the hang of the chapel at my attachment (I’m at Pembroke College chapel).

The BTh course I’m on lasts two years, and teaching is mostly over at the Divinity Faculty on the Sidgwick site. That means bicycle has been used nearly every day nipping over there and back. There are about a dozen of us, from Westcott and Ridley in the first year of the BTh. It’s a good mix and it’s great to have a chance to form friendships across the Cambridge Theological Federation.

A few people over Christmas asked me what a typical day was like, so I thought I’d blog briefly about it. There are a few variations on the basic theme, but this is more or less what life is like. I’m still mostly sticking to my early mornings although I am not running before chapel – morning prayer starts at 0740, and I have a few times gone for the silent meditation at 0715. The 0735 bell figures large in my mornings. After MP the holy people stay for a Eucharist, whereas I am hungry and go for breakfast… Lectures last term were nearly all in the mornings, so on several days a week as soon as breakfast is over it’s off to the bike shed to retrieve bicycle for the ride over to the Divinity Faculty. (Love the library there, by the way…). This coming term I’ve got more lectures in the afternoons so there’ll be a bit more to- and fro. A chance to work off a bit more of the college catering – which I am so far enjoying. After living alone for the best part of 12 years there will be a long time before I get tired of having meals cooked for me. Now if I could just get early morning tea delivery sorted…

Afternoons are a mix of preparation for supervisions (reading and essay writing) or the supervision meetings themselves, or lectures or sometimes other meetings – I’ve been part of the silent prayer group, and the rosary group so far. Then at 6pm we have Evening Prayer, followed by supper. After supper, more work, or more meetings. Choir practice is on Wednesdays, and in the Lent term there will be rehearsals for the Cambridge Passion. And a few nights out working with the winter homeless project. At 2130 there’s Compline, which I try to go to at least once a week, and usually after that it’s bedtime at the Towers for me, at any rate.

Thursdays are a bit different, as we have our community night – there’s a college Eucharist at 6pm which the ordinands’ partners and families go to. It feels much more like a ‘normal’ church service, with children’s work and a church full of people. Last term, although I enjoyed these evenings, it was the point in the week where I noticeably missed St Leonard’s and Colchester life. Soup supper and House notices follows the Eucharist (some people have been known to head to the bar in between), then either a meeting or two or a return to the bar before Compline at 2100. This is the only normative (compulsory) Compline of the week. In All Saints, candlelit, it is a beautiful reflective and calm moment in the week. Then you take a choice: home to the Greater Silence, which lasts until 0845 on Friday, or out to a local pub for the Lesser Silence. I think I was 50:50 last term on either Greater or Lesser Silence, both have their own benefits. Silent breakfast on a Friday is another little oasis of calm.

There you have it – that’s what takes my time up. Of course there’s also the weekly meeting at my attachment college, plus two services and two meals there each Sunday. And Saturdays, where I try to take a good day off (plans are afoot for many of them in Lent term…) And trying to find time to waste with people over a cup of tea or a glass of wine, finding the balance between solitary time that recharges me, solitary time that causes anxiety and being around people. Mealtimes are an interesting conundrum, it is wonderful to be able to sit and eat with other Westcottians but I do miss the ability to just quietly eat – and tweet, or read, or listen to the radio, or any of the things one does by oneself. In addition, now that Morning Prayer is no longer #trainprayer and a solitary activity, but corporate, with corporate prayer intentions, I’m still working out what my own personal pattern of prayer might look and feel like.

In Lent term, I have two new lecture series, Passion Play rehearsals, more choir practice as I will be singing with the choir and not just going to Wednesday practice (except on the days I am part of the children’s work); plus learning how to cantor as well as officiate at Compline; plus a half marathon in March to train for; a role as one of the college reps for AOCM and part, therefore, of the Common Room committee. I think it’s going to be busy…

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