This blog was prompted, in part, by a short lived nickname. I’ve had a few nicknames, over the years, including Dobbin, DrBob and Blobby. But it was Jonah; that was the one that set me to this. I’d been keeping myself busy with the challenges of keeping busy, and the suggestion was made that I was ignoring a calling, a vocation. I was working long hours finding ways to not have enough time to really understand where I should be going. It was spelt out to me that this was a form of displacement activity, of hiding in plain sight.
I am always keen to overthink things, so I dutifully reflected on this. I remembered my school teachers, who recognised that I was coasting in neutral for much of my teenage years, and who wanted me to discover a passion and really work hard at it. I got through University without really having to do this. I remembered my English teachers in particular who wanted me to write creatively at Sixth Form. I thought hard on my refusal to do this, but also on the way that fifteen years of preaching had allowed a lot of this creativity to manifest itself in different ways. I thought back to some brief experiments in writing poetry, and how much I enjoyed reading poetry. I considered how keen I’d been to write a poem for my friends’ theological spit project. A poem that ended up here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7iT4Pgkb-TI). I thought about vocations in the church, but there wasn’t an answer there for me.
So I started to write poetry again, and this time, I started to really enjoy writing. I found a dozen or so poems that I’d been playing with a decade ago, and I found myself wanting to finish them. I found myself really wanting to spend time writing. I’d always read a lot of poetry, particularly contemporary poetry, but writing it was something else.
If you really want to do something, though, I think you have to challenge yourself. I’d challenged myself as a preacher to work without notes, and that was hard. The same was true for poetry. You can write, and keep it to yourself, and keep it hidden. That’s satisfying to a degree but I felt strongly that I needed to push harder, and get better, and to do this I needed to share. So I made some videos for YouTube. I presented a half hour spoken word slot at the local arts festival. I shared poems on Facebook and Twitter. And it made me practice, and graft and work hard, and enjoy the working hard.
In my life so far, I’ve been lucky in that opportunities have often presented themselves, and I’ve been able to ignore some of the things that make me really excited. Perhaps that is a bad use of the word lucky. I’ve decided that now, however, it’s time to reclaim some of those passions. I’ve decided that I want to do something that I really care about, that I really, really, really want to be excited by.
And this is another step along the way; another step away from the sea, another step, I hope, from that grinning, hungry whale….