The course is just about to start. We have 2 years to be ‘formed’ into people who can undertake the role of Ministers of Religion within either the Anglican or Methodist traditions. We have finally moved into the accommodation, unpacked and started to understand the vibrancy of the local area, the diversity that is Birmingham. The academic site, both geographically and virtually (on Moodle, their internal website), has been navigated (to a degree) but, without bread crumbs no doubt I will get lost often in the first few weeks.

One thing that struck me was the intention of the course. Whereas on an academic course, such as taken back in my heyday, only in the 1980s ~ does that make me feel old?? ~ the purpose was to provide instruction to achieve the demands of a BSc, in my case. Here, we should receive a minimum of a Diploma in Theology (that’s 2/3rds of a full degree) but it is starting to come apparent that there is a deeper revelation to be discovered. Who I am.

We have just had the European Referendum in the UK. That was all about who we are? Can we be British and European?

We hear in the news about refugees who arrive in the country and are, very sadly, treated with indignity as if they are nothing. We see news bulletins where refugees are verbally abused or even violently attacked. The US Presidential election talks of ‘Making America Great’ again, as if they have to re-find their own identity. Again, sadly Muslims and foreign nationals, working in the country, are being targeted.

Perhaps before we ask of others who are they, we need to ask who am I?

If you were asked to describe yourself, what would you say?

You might use phrases that describe your role at work, or your family, where you live perhaps. But if these things change do you change? When I served in the Royal Air Force I held a minor rank, but that only described my status in relation to others. Furthermore that wasn’t a personal living relationship but an official hierarchy. I was then introduced to matrix management in a Government agency: here I could be a boss of others but reporting to them for a particular project. The status was complicated.

You might wish to describe yourself in terms of what you like to do, hobbies for example, or what you like to watch on TV (not #GBBO please!). So am I someone with a wonderful wife, blessed with two lovely children , who likes reading, statistics and running? Does that describe me completely? What about the grey hair? Can we move on please? I call it light blonde….

I have just finished reading Paula Gooder’s latest book entitled Body (other bookshops also sell the book). I’d recommend the book wholeheartedly. It breaks down what is body, spirit and soul. It suggests that originally these might have been seen as separate entities but with the advent of Paul’s letters to various churches, as recorded in the New Testament, body and soul are seemingly interlinked and connected. The body is energised by the soul, sustained by the essence of the soul. Upon death, our bodies are reinvigorated by God’s Spirit. Our bodies are transformed, but what of us, the thinking being?

Reading the book has allowed time to contemplate who I am.  It’s the start of a journey. As a Student Deacon I need to be aware of what gives my soul life and what takes life away from my soul. I have been recommended to pause each day and run through the Ignation Examen – the image below is taken from here.

What we take into our bodies, whether that be material or immaterial in nature, will still affect the way we think and operate. I’m looking to how I can say that ‘I don’t need that input in my life’ but ‘I need to be more open to that input’.

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So what about you?

What would you like to drop or take on today?

Could it allow you to be the person you were intended to be?

Then we can relate to others from a strong foundation perhaps.

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