What an enjoyable experience ‘retirement’ is - or can be
It’s just over 10 years since Ruth and I left Tawstock , in rural North Devon, where I was Vicar both of Tawstock and within a team of 11 parishes .
We had been in Devon since 1982 (when I came down to finish off my short service commission as an RAF Padre at RAF Chivenor) moving into the Rectory at Tawstock in 1984.
It was from there that we retired to nearby Torrington in 2010 . We felt quite ‘Devonian’ by then and having made a lot of friends in those 28 years it felt prayerfully right to stay where we had been so happy (with challenging and sad times too, of course)
When we retired ( I say we because Ruth-my companion on the journey for 45 years now- was such an important part of my ‘ministry’ and very much loved and appreciated in the parishes) I was encouraged , both by the parishioners and the Diocese, to write a few ‘memories’. Countryfolk are quite ‘laid back’ when it comes to getting things done-sometimes- and we had imbibed this relaxing way of living too.
Hence the ‘memories’ did not get written for some time and, by the time I had started putting pen to paper, a good friend who helped in our literacy projects for our charity (www.bookreliefuk) and had built our website suggested a ‘memories’ website.
It was such fun working with Nigel Wright to build a website about rural ministry and especially Tawstock. So to the title encapsulating two, for me, very central parts of our spiritual and Christian walk with God.
Trivial Round, Glory on the Way (www.trgow.net), our ‘memories’ website, that tried to capture some of the feel of rural ministry - which, of course, is centred around the community and Jesus’ Way (John 14:6) of following Him in the ways of loving service both to God and that community .
So to the Quakers (attender at Bideford since 2019) and through exploring all things Quakerly to the Quaker Universalist Group.
I attended an inspirational QUG conference at Woodbrooke –‘The Mystery of Mysticism' with speakers and conferees from several different faiths and ‘spiritual’ disciplines/jobs/ways of seeing the world.
Now enjoying recently a Female Buddist Conference (online because of Covid, of course) as well as several Woodbrooke courses on both Quaker and non-Quaker themes.
Not to mention our Meeting’s reading group - discussing a wonderful climate change novel ‘The Overstory’( by Richard Powers)–this afternoon too (8/3/21) and beginning ‘Braiding Sweetgrass (by Robin Wall Kimmerer), This latter book blurb summarizing the themes as
Indigenous Wisdom Scientific Knowledge the Teaching of Plants
So I think my growing understanding of Universalism is now:-
|Seeing that of God in everyone (listening to the Spirit within, however faint, in the lives of everyone I meet) Meeting folks out walking in our lockdown conditions has really helped this seeing/listening.
|Seeing that of God in everything - after all the natural world has been there slightly longer than ‘Homo Sapiens’ and, of course, nature was the first incarnation of the Divine as St Paul tells us and Jesus used as the basis of so much of His teaching.
Still a long way to go, but I’m very much enjoying the journey.