Sunday, July 20, 2008

warm welcome

It's pretty cold right now - we've just endured one of the coldest days I can remember in this part of the world. No snow here, but plenty falling nearby I imagine. To keep warm I've snuggled into a delicious possum and merino jacket and cooked up a pot of parsnip and apple soup.

Then I remembered what took place last weekend and it warmed the cockles of my heart!

Since February I have been working each Tuesday and Wednesday as a chaplain in a local primary school. I love it. This is the most enjoyable, rewarding job I have ever had. In some ways I don't think of it as a job at all... I bounce out of bed feeling excited to head into the school and hang out with the kids. They are beautiful children and we have a load of fun together.

Not that life is easy for them. It's not the richest part of town, literally and figuratively on the wrong side of the tracks, the unfortunate result of long past public housing policies, but often I see more maturity and resilience in some of these kids than I have observed in some of the adults I know on the right side of the tracks. I feel deeply honoured to work with these children, to provide a stable, caring presence who takes an interest in the story of their lives.

So last Sunday I was excited to participate in the official 'Welcome the Chaplain' event we held in the local community hall. People came from local churches, school children performed a couple of songs and a skit and after an official prayer we ate yummy food together.

Before you start picturing an ordered, polished event I should add that this was one of the most riotous, colourful affairs I have attended. One of my friends described it as 'random'. Usually distant children swarmed around me, pulling me hither and thither, offering effusive hugs, clambering to sit next to me for the service. Those who could not fit with me jumped all over Frank and settled into his lap. Out of the blue a group of African refugees sang a gospel song before two girls dressed as chalk and cheese ran out to lead a skit on healthy lifestyles. There was noise, mayhem and joy, spontaneity and laughter. Such a contrast to the regular services I attend. Somehow more earthy and real. A true expression of the community. I loved it.

So now I am officially a chaplain... I think for tax purposes I might even be considered clergy. Wild. Here is some (hideous) photographic proof. (Never let it be said I am vain...)

Now that all the energetic hoo-ha has settled down I am even more convinced of how much I love this job, how glad I am to be in there loving those kids, and that my role is as an instrument of God's love.

As I said... warms the cockles of my heart!

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At 12:33 am, July 21, 2008, Blogger Sandy's Notes said...

Oh Cecily, how wonderful! There's nothing like loving what you're doing. I often think that myself and feel guilty for getting paid.

I'm sure you are adding some great stuff to this school of open minds and hearts.

Such positive growth can make a huge difference in the world.

At 1:34 am, July 21, 2008, Blogger Deanna said...

Yay for "noise, mayhem, and joy." Sounds as attractive and toasty as your jacket. I think chaplains for schools is a great idea. At least you appear to be doing it right. As Sandy said, it sure helps to love what you're up to.

Keep warm!

At 1:32 pm, July 21, 2008, Blogger Mike S said...

Sounds like a match made in heaven between the kids & you, and both parties loving every minute of it. Nice photo:)

At 2:13 pm, July 21, 2008, Blogger Robyn said...

So good to hear how much you're enjoying your chaplaincy job! Awesome :)

At 11:34 pm, July 21, 2008, Blogger merrymishaps said...

It's wonderful that you've found a job that is so rewarding! Maybe someday you can find a way to chaplain full time ...

At 4:40 am, July 26, 2008, Blogger Cherie said...

Congrats on the cockle-warming hoo-ha, Cecily! Excellent!

(I have to say I was a bit nervous about your possum jacket especially after you commented on my site that my little possum was 'gorgeous'. I was afraid you were loving him for his fur -until I followed your link to discover that YOUR possums and different from OUR possums. A good laugh I had! ;)


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