We have spent the last 31 hours on the Isle Of Man with a group of people with varying anglican experiences, exploring the possibilities for ministry . It was amazing! The warmth of welcome, the hospitality, the scenery and the variety of churches we visited was incredible.
Living 'down south' meant that we had to fly to the Isle of Man. For those of you who questioned whether there really is an airport at Gloucester - I can assure you there is (and it has free parking). It must have one of the fastest, friendliest check-ins in the UK, we were boarding the plane within 40 minutes of arriving. The flight took about 45 minutes, the skies were clear and the views spectacular.
And so the process of discernment began. While The Curate engaged with everyone, I suddenly understood that I really was a curate's wife. I was surrounded with a variety of vicars and spouses. I visited numerous churches. I listened to discussions on churchmanship, congregation numbers, faculties and liturgy. I tried to imagine living in the vicarages we were shown. I tried to engage in the vision for the parishes and with the members of the various churches we visited.
What churches! What coffee and cakes! What countryside! The Curate and I were very impressed and excited by so much of what we saw. The rural churches were particularly memorable and stirring - maybe this was because of their simplicity or because they were such ancient Christian sites. We saw collections of ancient celtic stone crosses, I learned about keeills which were very ancient Christian chapels. I was reminded of the stone crosses and ancient sites that we pass on our walks on Dartmoor. In fact much of the Isle of Man reminded me of Devon and it felt unexpectedly comfortable.
|Come unto Me and I will give you rest.|
|remains of a keeill|
We attended evening prayer in a rural setting and morning prayer in more urban surroundings. We were driven over the mountain road and enjoyed the far reaching views across the island. We drove the roads that made up parts of the TT course and heard how the island was transformed by the vast number of visitors that come to see the racing. We visited The Sound, watched the seals and looked across to The Calf of Man. We saw so much and have so much to think about.
Island living offers different experiences and The Lord Bishop and Archdeacon were keen that everyone appreciated how separation from 'the other coast' might cause island fever! Bad weather could mean we couldn't race back for a family emergency. Bad weather could mean that some supplies on the Island could run short at times (stock up on toilet paper!).
We flew from the Isle of Man with so many thoughts turning over in our minds. We flew over the sunlit evening clouds trying to make sense of all we had seen and our feelings about this unexpected experience. Is this a door that The Curate should push open a little further? Or have we been reminded that we live in a very beautiful place already?