At a wedding on Saturday I met a former parish priest I know who now divides his time between management consultancy and a guitar. 'Parish ministry', he said, 'Is mainly about having continual battles with strong-minded women. That's why I gave up: I couldn't be bothered any more.'
My first week at Swanvale Halt left me feeling agitated and uneasy, mainly at the feeling of being slotted into a pre-existing round of engagements and activities that I've played no part in developing. But as I thought it might the Mass on Sunday made things suddenly feel very different. Here I was doing the thing I was sent to the parish to do among the people I'm supposed to care for and pray for. I poured all the frustrations, such as they are, into the chalice for Jesus to deal with, and they were drowned in the wine - even if, thanks to the swine-flu regulations, we're only using a dribble.
Last night somebody I was at college with phoned me. He's gaily taking his windswept Yorkshire parish back forty years and having vast fun doing so - reintroducing weekly Evensong, unbleached candles for the Requiem Mass, hymns they haven't sung for a generation - and they think it's marvellous. He said the other Sunday, 'Aren't you lucky to have such a young, trendy, forward-looking Rector?'