Hanging out with some cool dudes

I’ve just come back from a wonderful weekend away with other first year ordinands who are studying here in Durham. We’d been beginning to realise that there is something a bit special about our year group – and this weekend absolutely confirmed it!

The intention of the weekend was twofold. The first was to think through and reflect on various aspects of our call and journey to get here, and where we think we are heading in the future. This was fine, but nowhere near as important as the second – which was to spend time getting to know each other and deepening relationships. It was this that made the time away really enjoyable and significant. It seems we’re a strong and diverse group of people, very supportive of each other and without major egos!

We were located in a retreat house near Corbridge, not far from a section of Hadrian’s Wall. It is a lovely location. A few of went for a walk on the Saturday afternoon (roughly four miles) that looped around the area, taking us through some woods (showing full autumn colours), along a stream, and up a couple of gentle hills. The only problem was that the forecast sunny afternoon transmogrified into persistent drizzle.

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Friday night. Half midnight. Eleven blokes in the bar. Man talk. Classic. Very special. (and would you believe it, we managed the next night as well!)

A strange thing happened on the Sunday. This was the artsy session of the weekend, in which we divided into groups of three or four, to produce something creative on some theme about ministry. I was with Dana and James. We had a brainstorm for half an hour, and then Dana said, “I think we should do this as a dance”. James and I gulped, thought, ‘that’s scary’, and said, “Yes, let’s do it!”. It was a very simple idea: in a nutshell, we symbolised the community of the Trinity by dancing around each other (or, in my case, ‘colliding’), and then drew in all the other students. It was huge fun, preparing for it and then doing it – which was added to by everyone else’s enthusiasm as they were drawn in. When I got back I thought, ‘that’s strange, I took part in a dance without freaking out about it at any stage… how did that happen?’

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This is us. Top four: Phil, Andy, James, Sarah; next four: Kuhan, Andy, Rod, Russ; next two: John, Andy; Michael Volland in the dog collar; next four: Dana, Ned, Wendy, Sarah; front row: Tom, Elaine, me, Anne Dyer (warden), Dave, Woodie.

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