Lambeth calling … London calling

One of the issues I have being in a rural parish now is that I kind of forget about the wider church, and then of course someone goes and messes up and I’m reminded once again that as a queer person of faith, I’m actually a second class citizen in the eyes of so many…


Many of the bishops heading for the Lambeth Conference, which begins next week, are still in transit, looking forward to a few days together, and already we are experiencing the fallout. The Conference has been delayed from 2018 – firstly because it wasn’t the right time to bring the bishops together, it would not have been productive; then because of the global pandemic. In former times we would have been entertaining bishops in the dioceses across the country this weekend, establishing and re-establishing relationships and friendships. But the ‘pre-Lambeth hospitality programme’ was abandoned and, apart from a few exceptions where individual arrangements have been made, the bishops are heading straight to the campus outside of Canterbury that will be their base for the next couple of weeks. That was a real shame because the Communion, if it is about anything, must be about relationships. But that sad decision was made.

View original post 864 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Change, and change again

In 2018, I started at the University of Sunderland to train to become a Primary School teacher. At this point in time, I was still very confident that God wanted me in the Order of the Holy Paraclete, despite having had to extend my time in First Profession instead of make my Life Profession.

Then, things started to change in 2019. Living in a branch house with only one other sister is not the easiest, and there were a number of factors that made it go (for me) from “rather difficult” to “frankly impossible”. During this time, the then Prioress died. By Easter 2019, I was stretched to my limit, and on Easter Monday I ended up returning to Whitby to the mother house (which by this point was the newly built priory that the sisters were still, technically, moving into).

I spent the summer in Whitby, commuting to Sunderland until lectures ended, and then commuting to Redcar for the services at St Peter’s. My uncertaincy about the future lasted all summer. There was a Readers-in-training weekend at Wydale, and during the Saturday afternoon I went for a run, and when I got back, I really didn’t want to put my habit back on. I made myself do so, because I knew if I didn’t then, then I’d likely not put it back on in the morning either.

At the end of August, I went to Greenbelt, hoping that somehow answers would be provided. And they were. I had several conversations with people and realised that my future no longer included me being a member of a religious order past my time in first profession.

I returned to Redcar, and started the second year of the degree. So far so good, and for balance, there had been an extra sister sent to the house as well, which was pleasing.

January 2020 and it was my first long placement teaching practice. Loved it, although it reminded me of all the trials and tribulations of friendship problems between 10-and-11-year-old-girls! The placement ended up being cut short by two days because of the pandemic, which was fine for me (but sadly some of the cohort had only just started their placements). Lectures taking place online were very different to lectures in person, and writing now it seems so very long ago, when in reality it was only just over 12 months…

By the summer, though, it had been all sorted out that the branch house was going to be moving from Redcar to Middlesbrough. The sister I had been living with was returning to the priory and a different sister would join me in Middlesbrough. July and August saw me coordinating with a variety of different people to get the house organised to be packed up and moved, and then everything unpacked at the other end.

September 2020 I was resident by myself in the new house, and also had to tell the sisters that I would not be staying after graduation. I was also licenced as a Reader (Licenced Lay Minister) in September, and the information from University was that we’d have one face-to-face lecture (or 3D, as a friend has recently referred to it) a week. I was accepted as a student rep for my cohort too, one of six of us, which turned out to be fantastic support.

Lectures were very quickly changed to be all online via Teams, as Covid cases increased in the second wave and Sunderland further reduced the capacity of the lecture theatres. As a cohort, so many people supported each other as we tried to figure out what the hell was going on.

The sister who was joining me in the house arrived at the end of October half term, and we settled down to life – which was not as easy as I would have liked! Coming downstairs to discover the kitchen half re-arranged and then left because she’d gone to spent half an hour in the garden doing some weeding before coming back to it was frustrating. I had initially requested that the two of us move into the house at the same time, to prevent this sort of thing from happening, but it wasn’t possible.

Christmas came, and with it the news from the Priory that because of the increase in cases in the Middlesbrough area, we weren’t to go there for Christmas. “Gutted” doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt. I’d planned on only being there for three days, because of an assignment that was due in, but to be told we couldn’t even enter the building was heartbreaking news ahead of my last Christmas in community.

I threw myself into my studies and the assignment I was working on instead, and on planning my sermon, as I was the one preaching on Christmas Day. Huge honour to be asked to do that, and I think it went all right! And the effort on the assignment was a very good thing as I ended up with a result of 72 (which is a First).

New Year meant new lockdown, and that was something else that wasn’t easy to deal with. Lectures continued online, for the final assignment and then information about how to go about finding and applying for teaching positions, and also preparation for the final placement.

I spent 10 weeks with a year 5 (9-10-year-olds) class, who were fantastic. I still miss them, and hope they’re having a better summer than they did last year.

At the end of May, I packed everything into my car (it was a tight squeeze) and headed off into, well, not the sunset, but for the south west of England. I’m now in Devon, looking for my first teaching post. I’ve been granted Qualified Teacher Status, and yesterday received in the post my degree certificate confirming that I have a First Class Honours BA in Primary Education.

If I don’t get a full time teaching position, if I end up taking a teaching assistant type post, then academia calls – UoS offer their MA in Education part time via distance learning.

In the meantime, I’m staying with a friend and helping her look after her land (and her horse) and trying to figure out exactly where God wants me to go next.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

3rd year student!

Well, it’s far too long since I last even thought about posting.

I’m done with two years of university, training to teach in a primary school. Today I had confirmation that I’ve passed the second year and am safely enrolled onto the third and final year.

Being on placement and in the classroom has been great, and I was in a really fantastic school. It wasn’t so great that the last week of placement was the week in which it was announced by the UK government that the schools would be closing – which resulted in the university pulling all students from their placements. That sucked, because it meant I didn’t have the same amount of time to say goodbye to the kids as I thought I was going to have! I’m looking forward to the next placement though, because I’ll be doing a lot more teaching and in school for a much longer stretch of time – assuming that schools are going to be willing to take on trainee teachers for placements, given that we’re still dealing with a global pandemic and all.

And there are only 4 modules next year too. So only 3 written assignments, one of which is a dissertation/project type thing, for which I already have an idea and will start the reading and research on in the next few weeks.

Everything else seemse to be muddling along as well as can be expected considering. The one thing I am gutted about is that Greenbelt is not happening this year. I understand why, and am glad that the organisers have taken this step. It won’t stop me missing what is the highlight of my summer.

I think the best thing of the last 12 months was getting a mark of 82 (out of 100) on an assignment. There have been many things which haven’t been brilliant, but that was definitely near the top of the list for the good things.

The coming 12 months are going to be very unpredictable, that’s for sure. I just hope that I can keep up with the uni work.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Contemplations over a big mug of tea

It’s about a year since I last posted.  Ooops.

So I’m a university student, a sister and a reader in training.  It’s a bit of a juggle, and there are days when it’s not easy, but most of the time it’s OK.  Right now I have two assignments due quite close together, the first one for readers and the second for uni.  It’s a BA in Primary Education that comes with qualified teacher status, as one module in each year is time spent in schools on teaching practice/placement tasks.

I’m still running, still knitting, still crocheting.  These help keep me sane when things start getting a bit much.  I’m really glad that there are three weeks away from uni right now because I don’t think I could juggle Holy Week and classes.  That would be more than I could cope with.  I’ve also discovered colouring mandalas via Pinterest, which are wonderful to do with the pack of sharpies I got back in October (they were seriously reduced and I also got student discount otherwise I’d not have bought them).

As well as the fire at Notre Dame yesterday, there was a fire at the principle Mosque in Jerusalem.  There have been three churches in the USA notable for their congregations being made up of people of colour who have been targeted by arsonists recently too.  Not all of these are related, but the way that the media has reacted to the events is notable.  There’s almost nothing in the mainstream UK news about Jerusalem.

All the pictures on Twitter on Sunday from assorted places of worship with their donkeys in procession for Palm Sunday made me miss the donkeys the order used to look after back in Whitby.  They were rehomed three years ago, but I still miss them.  At least that experience made for a good starting point when I preached my first sermon on Sunday morning.  Jesus hops on that donkey as though the wee thing was a bicycle and it doesn’t freak out.  That is definitely a miracle.

My mental health situation is mostly balanced at the moment, but the previous few months have had some very hard times, for a wide variety of reasons.  I keep on plodding on, and somehow manage to get out of bed even on the days when I’d really rather not.  Not sure how I do that, but it keeps on happening so I’m just going to run with it.  (Perhaps it’s just that it’s easier to get up and go to morning prayer than to have a discussion about my mental state?)

Listening to the radio the other day, they played a song that reminds me of being a kid.  So I’ll leave it here to end with, because it’s cheery if nothing else!

Posted in Mental health, Random thoughts on current topics | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Luxury Advent Calendar for the Soul – 24 December

The last window for this year.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Happy Christmas and Happy Holy Days to everyone.

Bryony Taylor

So I’ve saved for the final window one of my all time favourite pieces of Christmas music and one of my all time favourite YouTube videos. Enjoy and may you have a peaceful and blessed Christmas!

The Latin lyrics being sung are:


Latin Translation ©2001 by Charles Anthony Silvestri

(English poem by Edward Esch)

LUX,                                              Light,

CALIDA GRAVISQUE                warm and heavy

PURA VELUT AURUM               as pure gold,

ET CANUNT ANGELI                  and the angels sing softly

MOLLITER MODO NATUM.       to the newborn babe.

View original post

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Luxury Advent Calendar for the Soul – 23 December

Bryony Taylor

Behind today’s window is a short animated poem by my friend Nick. I think it’s fantastic!

View original post

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Luxury Advent Calendar for the Soul – 22 December

Bryony Taylor

Behind today’s window is another poem. This is almost a fixture now at our traditional carol service and is usually read by Ros, one of our Lay Readers. It is so moving.

‘Mary’, by Lisa Debney

Your eyes are open now.
Those eyes which will open the eyes of others.
You study my face and, just for the moment,
though you came for the world,
you are mine and mine alone.
I made you and you made me
and we gaze at each other in equal wonderment.

Your eyes are open now,
so dark-bright –
sent from a night full of light and stars –
that I could watch you for ever,
watch your chest rise and fall
as you breathe the cattle-soaked air.
I would like this moment to last for ever,
you are so wonderful to me,
so truly wonderful as you are.

But not my will, Lord…

View original post 69 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Luxury Advent Calendar for the Soul – 21 December

Bryony Taylor

Behind today’s window is a sonnet. I was inspired by this for my sermon I’m preaching this Sunday morning for Advent 4 – which celebrates the Virgin Mary.

Annunciation – Malcolm Guite

We see so little, stayed on surfaces,

We calculate the outsides of all things,

Preoccupied with our own purposes

We miss the shimmer of the angels’ wings,

They coruscate around us in their joy

A swirl of wheels and eyes and wings unfurled,

They guard the good we purpose to destroy,

A hidden blaze of glory in God’s world.

But on this day a young girl stopped to see

With open eyes and heart. She heard the voice;

The promise of His glory yet to be,

As time stood still for her to make a choice;

Gabriel knelt and not a feather stirred,

The Word himself was waiting on her word.

View original post

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Luxury Advent Calendar for the Soul – 20 December

Bryony Taylor

Behind today’s window is a recommendation! I recommend that you watch this documentary on the BBC iPlayer. The documentary is about Danny Boyle and Banksy staging a nativity play in Bethlehem near the Wall in the West Bank – the play itself will be broadcast tonight at 11pm on BBC 2.

I was incredibly moved to see what life in modern day Bethlehem is like. It will change the way you feel about those carols about Bethlehem this Christmas.

View original post

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Luxury Advent Calendar for the Soul – 19 December

Bryony Taylor

Behind today’s window is an advent responsory. This is what is prayed each morning as part of the Daily Office in Advent and I rather like it as it sounds a bit like something from Game of Thrones (or rather Game of Thrones’ liturgy sounds like ours)! You might like to make this part of your prayers today:

Now it is time to awake out of sleep,
for the night is far spent and the day is at hand.

Now is our salvation nearer than when we first believed,
for the night is far spent.

Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness
and put on the armour of light,
for the day is at hand.

Put on the Lord Jesus Christ
and make no provision for the flesh,
for the night is far spent and the day is at hand.

View original post

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment