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St Thomas, Stamford Hill - my first curacy

Father Gould was tremendously well-organised. Having been a major in the army, he had us all out on parade every morning for Morning Prayer, Meditation and Mass. He provided us all with Filofaxes, in an effort to give us the wherewithal to ensure we were in the right place at the right time... and he was efficient at filing stuff away. The sort of man he was - he opened his home to an elderly member of the church, and provided her with end-of-life care at his own expense.

The Curate senior to me, Fr Christopher Tuckwell (see photo above) had an amazing rapport with the local West Indian and Irish communities. Being country-born-and-bred, and by nature quite reserved (I know that's hard to believe now!), Christopher invited me along with him to all sorts of occasions. It was not unusual to return to the Vicarage at 4am! I was fortunate to begin my ministry with such gifted and inspirational people.

"All", for an average East London group of parishes meant Incumbent, two Curates, a Parish Worker (who became a Deaconess) and a priest-colleague - those were the days! Fr Christopher Tuckwell went on to be parish priest in Georgetown on the island of St.Vincent. He became a Roman Catholic in the 90s, and ended-up as Administrator of Westminster Cathedral - no-one was more surprised than Christopher!

The Hanging Rood in St Thomas's Church

Back in the Dark Ages, it was expected that clergy would have a First and a Second Curacy. During my two Curacies, I couldn't imagine that life could get any busier.

We were a bit like "Social Services After Hours" in London, and I soon learnt a work-pattern (after the example of my TI) of "late to bed, early to rise", which unfortunately has stayed with me. A different placement for Second Curacy, in the splendid Fenland town of Ramsey, with the village of Upwood and RAF Upwood within its care.

Saint Leonard, Leverington - my first incumbency

When I became a fully-fledged Rector after those seven years that I had considered pretty busy, I never envisaged how much busier parochial life could be.

That's when I began to suffer with piles. Piles of paper, spread around the floor of my Study in an organised fashion, waiting to be filed in my filing cabinet.

Today's the day to remedy the piles!

We've had some people in to do some serious work on the house. I set aside this week to be here with them, and decided it would be good to diminish a particular pile of papers and bits and pieces we removed from my late-Mother's flat. She was very well organised, but by the time she reached 90 things became less-so, and once she reached 100 there were piles and piles of bills, invoices, receipts and the like under her chair. This morning that pile was attacked and vanquished!

Clare Baker describes herself as a "Clutterholic".

She asks - Do any of the following relate to you?

Tried having blitzes?

Been ruthless with your decisions and then regretted them?

Created endless piles?

Piled the piles on top of each other until they toppled over?

Moved the piles from corner to corner, room to room?

Bought storage solutions to try to contain your clutter?

Clutter does not have to be the result of disorganisation. it is as likely that "the cluttered one" is overwhelmed by "busy-ness". If that is the case, then at the beginning of the day:-

Pray God into your situation.

think about....what is urgent, and needs to have YOUR attention a.s.a.p.?

What is less-urgent?

Can it wait?

Perhaps someone else could deal with it better than you?

You don't have to do everything that is asked of you,

especially if others are better-qualified.

Do what you can not what you can't.

Emails - if you're trying to take a break,

make sure you post a message to say

when you may be contacted after your time away.

You will be no good to anyone if you never relax.

Make sure you make a diary-entry for you to get on top of that pile on the floor!

Just one at a time is an achievement.

Make a date with one of those piles, and don't let it down!

Make sure you put some regular time in your diary to give yourself space.

Make an appointment with yourself, and don't feel guilty about it.

Pray God into your situation.

God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things which should be changed, and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.

Living one day at a time, Enjoying one moment at a time, Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, Taking, as Jesus did, This sinful world as it is, Not as I would have it, Trusting that You will make all things right, If I surrender to Your will, So that I may be reasonably happy in this life, And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

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