Jordan, a Sketch Pad and a Recorder

On the 18th April, I shall be starting 3 months of ‘Study Leave’.

I have thought it best to wait until the detail of what I shall be doing crystallises before writing in the Newsletter. Loose ends remain, and things may have to change, but I’m getting there. Clergy are entitled to take Study Leave every 10 years – this will be my first time. It can be easier said than done to take leave from a parish for 3 months, but with Dave able (and willing) to ‘hold the fort’ and a strong team in place, the way is clear, and I am very much looking forward to it. I will be going out to Jordan, probably on 25th April to join up with Canon Andrew White. He is well known as the ‘Vicar of Baghdad’ (although he cannot go there at the moment.) and I accompanied him to Iraq on a ‘peace mission’, a brief visit in December 2000. His organisation, FRRME works with refugees in both Jordan and Kurdistan. My aim is to stay out there for 3 or 4 weeks, doing some volunteering, giving me a window into what it’s like, how it might feel to be in that situation. Joanna hopes to come for some of the time, and we hope to see Jordan a bit.

On return, we will be based in North Yorkshire; first, to process and reflect on the time in Jordan. I am sure I will want to put some of this onto paper. Also, I am going to pick up on two things which passed me by as an active participant while I was growing up – art and music. So I’ll be having some basic drawing lessons, and sketching every day. I’ve been talked out of the piano and the flute, so it’s going to be a tenor recorder for the music. I’m told I can make some progress via the web, but I’ll be getting some human help as well. There’s talk of doing some singing too, we’ll see.

To equip me better as a parish priest, I am very confident this will give new breadth and depth, and will open up new things. I’m glad the time includes my being taught in the ‘school of life’ and that it will have a creative, ‘left brain’ focus.

TOM GILLUM