Just in the last few weeks, I’ve realised that I think I’m over the “hump” of my curacy.
Curacies are strange beasts – perhaps even more so as an SSM curate doing one day a week (cue “but vicar’s only work one day a week” joke) – in that so far I have spent the vast majority of my time doing new stuff. Now, I love doing new things, and learning new skills, starting new projects, and so on, but it’s also an exhausting place to inhabit.
The upshot is a huge sense of being de-skilled, and a very low return on investment. So, for instance, I might spend hours and hours and hours preparing to lead a Book of Common Prayer communion (with all the “Thee”s and “Thou”s) for the first time, and the result is something which is fine, but nothing special – and certainly what I would normally expect for the amount of effort I put in. Similarly baptisms, weddings, funerals, pastoral visits, leading other services, civic occasions – the list goes on.
It ends up being a bit of a double whammy – not only am I not doing things which I can easily do (and do well), but I am doing things which I don’t know how to do (and therefore don’t do especially well, despite having spent ages preparing).
The sense then, at least at times, is of a bit of an uphill slog in the early days. You don’t really know the people in the church, you don’t really know how things are done in that culture/context, and you’re doing new stuff, a lot of the time from scratch. There is no shortcut; you just have to go through it.
To be fair I have also probably been trying a little too hard! But I am very conscious of having to cover all the bases on only one day a week. Obviously the goalposts are different to a stipendiary curate – I am unlikely to go to lead a church straight from my curacy for example, but the basics we have to cover in terms of ministry bread and butter are the same.
Anyway – just in the last month or so, thing have started to feel a bit different. With my recent wedding I’ve now ‘done’ at least one of everything. And when I led our big family service the other week, I was actually quite relaxed and even enjoyed it! There’s just the earliest inclination that I’m starting to get the hang of this vicar thing, and that it’s not perhaps going to be quite such hard work all all the time.
The other interpretation is that it’s all downhill from here!!