Jesus and Husqvarna

May 27th, 2012 | By | Category: Church of Ireland Comment

Monday is the day off, except when it’s not. On the first Monday in May, there was a wedding. On the second Monday in May, there was a funeral. On the third Monday in May, there was a meeting two hours’ drive away. So tomorrow is the fourth Monday in May, and may provide the first day off in a month.

This is not to complain, many farmers will work Seven days a week for month after month and they will have no guarantee of pay at the end of each month; it is more to point up the significance of a day off when the prospect of one arises. Tomorrow, 28th May 2012, there is nothing in the diary, nothing except cutting the grass. Cutting the grass in the two acre back garden means three hours driving a ride on mower, clearing jams caused by the thick moist grass, emptying the grass box dozens of times, wondering where in the Bible it says that following Jesus means fighting the incursions  of briars and brambles, wondering where in the ordination service there is any requirement to mow a lawn that could have provided sites for a dozen or more houses.

A Church of Ireland committee is looking at the question of clergy housing, but it’s not a committee that is needed, it’s a bit of common sense. Why should anyone have to live in a vast Eighteenth Century house, built on three floors and subject to so many preservation orders that even double glazing is not permissible, making it unheatable in winter?

How is the mission of the church facilitated by providing rectories suited to another age? It is argued that the provision of glebe houses facilitates mobility among the clergy, but many clergy spend twenty years or more in one house, (sometimes up to forty years!). Job mobility is probably far higher in other sectors than it is among clergy who may be inhibited from moving to another parish by a reluctance to leave a rectory in which they may have invested a lot of their own money, or by the prospect of living in one that is unmanageable or poorly maintained.

To question the whole system is likely to cause more offence in some circles than would doubting the existence of God. There is a deep attachment, in many communities, to the idea of having their priest living among them, the priest becoming talisman-like, as though his presence might ward off evils that might otherwise befall the parish.

Of course, there is a ministry in  simply being among people , sharing the realities of their daily lives, but must that presence be so demanding? I wonder how many farmers would be happy with the opportunity of a day off being marred by the need to cut the grass in a garden not even their own?

The committee will undoubtedly produce a report, and the report will be discussed, and nothing will happen, and there will still be grass to be mown.

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  1. Presume you told Katharine about the logs!!!!! Just read this, it caused a smile as l knew it would. You do have a way with words!!! Am going to re-read it tomorrow when my eyes are wide open, and will comment in more detail. You should seriously consider doing some real writing, and write some books, in between cutting grass on your day off, l in this month and looking after 3 or is it 4 churches!!! I mean it, you are very good at it, i’m very impressed by some of the articles you have written. Anyway, tomorrow is another day. Enjoy your day off even if it is going to be spent on a ride on mower!!!!!

  2. Thanks, but the reason I’m writing on a blog is that nowhere else would publish anything I had written. Everything I have ever sent to publishers has been rejected, as have attempts to interest newspaper editors; I even failed to get a free newspaper to take any interest in the idea of a weekly column.

  3. I agree Patricia, Ian you would sell at least one book if you wrote it on your childhood, ‘Memories of Somerset’ I would buy one….! I think you have written some great pieces for your blog….

  4. Re- your writing, l find it hard to believe, and as your friend says, he would buy one, so would l !!!!! Think you have a great gift, when you have time, you should jot down a few ideas and take it from there. Now, to the article l was too tired to answer properly last night. Firstly grass!!! Our tumble down shack ( although it isn’t by an old railroad track!!) is surrounded by grass and hedges, they are everywhere, and my husband looks after all that even though he is 70, and l tend the flowers!!! We also have an acre of grass next to the house, which is just like a meadow. It ends up being made into hay by one of the local farmers, and Bob’s your uncle. A few sheep would graze your 2 acres, and most farmers are always looking for land for sheep or horses etc. Even though it is not your grass per se, could you not just let it grow and have a chat with one or two farmers and cut it later in the summer???? This is only a suggestion, you could then sell it and do whatever you deemed fit with the money!!! I don’t think there is a manual for following Jesus, nor did He expect you to get entagled in bushes and brambles on His behalf!!! However, as you quite rightly point out that this theoretically is not your grass, so don’t cut it!!! I was only ever in the Deanery a couple of times, but if it is so ancient and inundated with preservation orders then it hardly seems conducive to be a clergy dwelling house. There are many alternatives to its use, and the C of I committee should build a new Deanery complete with dishwasher, en suite et al !! It is rather ironic that my rector lives 5 minutes down the road from me,who is a single man, lives in a modern state of the art rectory, which was completely refurbished during the incumbency of Roy Byrne, and includes an en suite and a dishwasher. It’s a lovely house, there is grass!!! but nothing that a quick run round with a Flymo wouldn’t solve. I probably agree with you about people liking their rector close by, l have been lucky with rectors who were good friends, so it was nice to pop in and have a cup of tea and a chat, but then a lot of parishioners would not have that level of friendship either. I’m not sure about whether you fellow clergy have similar problems, but l guess some of them do, you should get together and form a committee of your own and get up a petition or have a quiet word with your neighbour in Troysgate!!! These are just a few fractured thoughts that may or may not make much sense, but like your wife, you are entitled to have time off and a nice warm house, and no two acres of grass to cut!! If it does not belong to you, leave it alone and let it grow to the sky if it wants, l presume you do not use it as a back garden!!!! Do write something, digressing from grass et al, it would be great to read a book written by you, whatever the genre, perhaps a murder in the Deanery, an eighteenth century ghost, endless possibilities, and like your friend suggests, your childhood in Somerset, go for it!!!! Don’t suppose one is supposed to leave comments this long, but, tend to be a bit like that when l start writing, or typing as the case maybe. I am going to do a ‘nixer’ one sunday and appear in Co Laois at one of your services, would think you’re quite a powerful preacher, l pray that l am right!!! On that note, must away to sleep like a ‘log’!!! Glanced at your flag story, but not enough time to absorb it all, but i’m sure it will be intersting, perhaps not as much as the two acres of grass!!!! Blessings to you both.

  5. Some of your blogs could be read on Sunday Miscellany on RTE radio; your sermons would provide lots of ideas to clergy and readers. I take it you’ve tried religious publishers.

  6. Spot on Martin, yes they could, I enjoy listening to Sunday Miscellany since I got an iphone, in fact I listen to RTE on the iphone more than I use it as a phone..!!!

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