Staying Put – a blog from 2008

Sometimes I get twitchy and let myself get drawn into a flurry of speculation and exploration of jobs other than the one I am doing at the time. Now, it is a hard business to judge when it is right to be looking at other things to be doing, and it is certainly the case that if you are a priest in the C of E no one is going to be looking after your career (or whatever you call it) but yourself.

Every time you look at such things it is emotionally taxing: you have to think about the job and the move and the new place and so forth. And that is because it is never just a job.

Then I remember the lecture I heard at a British and Irish Association of Mission Studies Conference in Maynooth years ago about “Celtic Christianity”. The eminent lecturer was scathing about the characterisation of most of what passes these days for “celticness” in Christian spirituality and practice.

In discussing the celebrated capacity of monks to undertake great long journeys as ‘pilgrims for Christ’ he told us that this was a habit of the Irish monks in particular. As soon as the winter storms abated and fairer weather came they got itchy feet and jumped in their coracles and were off. But it would be a mistake to think that everyone did this. There were the British monks who tended to get left behind. They it was who did the digging and sowing and planting and tending and reaping – so that when the itinerant Irish returned for the winter there was something to sustain them all for the winter. The complaints of those who stayed put have left their mark in the literature.

Benedictines see stability as a virtue. When I get twitchy I remember that it is, and try and calm down.


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