After a considerable hiatus while I finished the PhD and life in Scotland, spent time resting and recovering in Adelaide with family, and accepted a call and moved to Canberra, Midweek Musings are back!
Each week I will share some of my wonderings, questions I am encountering, reflections I am crafting on the biblical stories. In fact, you will get a fair bit of the latter, either as musings, or separate posts, as in this new season and new ministry placement, I will be preaching and / or curating gathered worship most Sundays.
I will share with you the joys and struggles of finding a home in another new city, and it will be interesting to see what themes recur from the musings during my Scottish Sojourn. And I will introduce you to my new community of faith at Canberra Central.
This year will also feature posts from my 'Year of Turning 40', as I celebrate the close of a wonderfully rich, challenging, and rewarding decade, and embark on another that is full of promise for a different way of life.
Why don't we start there, then, as the Year of Turning 40 kicked off this past weekend with a party in Adelaide.
Paul Simon penned the song lines, 'I am a rock, I am an island,' and for a decent chunk of my life I was tempted to make that my motto, reluctant to rely on others, isolated by injury and mental illness. But more than ever, my 30s were a decade featuring an entirely different approach to life, a decade in which I truly learnt that we are only fully human, whole, well, thriving, with each other.
Although I embraced my solitary nature and experienced liberation from the world's expectation that all human adults will partner if they are to be whole, I simultaneously embraced my deep yearning for community. I have known myself to be welcomed, a vital, contributing member of communities in three different countries, and across many of the different incarnations of the Christian church. Indeed, I have relied on those communities for my wellbeing, not to mention my ability to pay the rent, through three of the most challenging years of my life.
This Year of Turning 40 is as much my thank you to as many of the people who have kept me alive and well, with whom I have collaborated creatively, whose stories I have witnessed and been privileged to hold safe, as it is about celebrating my particular chronological milestone.
So it was right to begin at 'home'. To close one chapter in order to open a new one; to be with the people who make Adelaide my spiritual, soulful, if not physical, home.
We gathered in the hall of the church that is home for my family, from which I candidated, and in which I performed the embodied analysis of Romans that formed a chapter of my thesis. On a stinking hot day, we were grateful for the air conditioners, but didn't eat as much of the bountiful spread provided with the help of my fabulous family as we might have on a cooler day.
The atmosphere was festive; a couple of two year olds loved the helium filled balloons and we enjoyed watching their joy; I bounced from one conversation to another, a happy pin ball ricocheting between friends I've gathered along my eclectic travels.
For speeches, I said my thank yous to this gathering of friends and proposed my own toast to them; Heather spoke of the gift of storytelling, and my efforts to participate in encouraging that gift wherever I go; and the Walker family humbled me greatly with their stories of how our hearts have collided during my time as their minister, and since then, as very good friends. To have a piece of music composed for the occasion of your 40th birthday, well, now, that was something special indeed!
My sisters compiled some photos of me over the 40 years, and accompanied them with quotes from some of my favourite movies and TV shows, which was fabulous. And Dad proposed a toast, prefaced by some words in honour of the way I have always been a wordsmith, and how that has got me through the darkness of depression, and brought me to many exciting adventures.
We had cake, chocolate mud cake, of course, and when I looked up from the round of goodbyes, little elves had been busy tidying up the hall ready for us to go home.
Later that evening, after my family and I had eaten dinner and collapsed, exhausted after a successful day of celebrations, I read through cards and the poems some of my guests had shared with me. The invitation was to give me a poem - a favourite, or one of their own composition - which I will gather from guests at each celebration in different places around the world this year, and then I will have a collection of poems from the hearts of my friends. So far the collection is as diverse and wonderful as my collection of friends. I'm looking forward to the next celebration, wherever that will be, in this Year of Turning 40.