A year in the life...
Can it really be? A whole year past since that great service of Induction. And what do I see? A changed skyline! In place of the black but comforting stone finger of St Peterís there is what can only be described as a giant Christmas present. Well, from afar anyway. Close up: yes I know itís really doing the building a lot of good, but it doesnít really look very inviting, does it? But I suppose after eighty years it deserves a wash and a brush-up. Mind you, having tried to get going on a celebration of Holy Communion yesterday with the deafening roar of the brush-up machine and a shower of little bits all over the place, I can only say Iím looking forward as I am sure everyone is to seeing the end result!
But Nottingham has thrown up so many new things for us, and by far the most important has been the new friendships we have made, both within the congregation and beyond. We have always enjoyed the process of discovering new places, which may explain why we seem to be moving around the country in ever-decreasing circles, and Nottingham has certainly been no exception. Itís a great city, which we have only really scratched the surface of, and as for the surrounding countryside, what with foot and mouth and all that, we have done no more than drive through it a few times - except for one very nice pub lunch with the Vicar of St Maryís and his wife, out East. The pub, the Dovecote at Langar, was good enough but the walk back to the Nealeís cottage, although possibly longer than necessary showed us how attractive the countryside is as well. But I digress.
A year has seen Fran well and truly settled in her job and working extremely hard; Lucy married in a joyous celebration from St Peterís (and how glad we were for the famed patience and generosity of the St Peterís people when from afar we proposed radical solutions to our ĎInterchurch Familyí situation); three more offspring have completed their first year happily and drunkenly at universities in Lancaster and in two distant corners of London; and Ben has had the run of this wonderfully spacious and homely rectory, latterly spreading himself around three or four rooms as he appeared to prepare for his first tranche of exams at Bilborough College.
We have loved having lots of people to the Rectory over the year. It has helped to familiarise us with people and them with us (I hope), and more such events are planned. Apart from covering up the church building, I feel we have begun to connect with a range of people and institutions in the city centre that open up potential for exciting new things in the future: Peopleís College, Broadway Cinema, Macedon, Nottingham Health Authority, and others. We have seen and heard some fascinating visitors both in the pulpit and performing on the Ďstageí: Nottingham Symphonic Winds, Clare Short, Liz Robertson, the Archbishop of Sudan, Kathy Galloway and more. We have even managed to experiment quite widely with Common Worship, much to the frustration of some but hopefully to the benefit of others.
Whatever else we may say, this is a place where things can and will happen. It has been a hectic year of settling - thereís not a lot of time to sit back and think, but then Sister Francesca keeps on ringing me up to make sure I have occasional days away with CHN in Derby, which offers welcome respite. So we are ready and eager for the second year. Thank you for having us!!