From my previous posts, it will be obvious that I had a great time at the weekend. Part of that weekend involved singing in an Advent Carol service. Advent has to be my favourite season in the Church year - this terrific sense of expectancy, in the dark of the Celtic winter, where the candle flames are a tiny flicker in the gloom. But was MY enjoyment at the expense of someone else's? There was at least one person present who, apparently, has girned her way through the two days since the service - so obviously not a happy bunny!
This leads me, slightly waywardly, into considering the difficulties of running a voluntary organisation like the church. Enthusiastic people - great, but also difficult. When does one person's enthusiasm become another's bete noir? How do you tell someone that actually their efforts are not helpful - and how do you deal with someone who makes destructive comments? who seems oblivious to hurt caused?
I suspect that traditionally the clergy have soaked up a lot of this stuff. After all, that's what they're paid for, right? (Sarcasm, here) But now that full-time priests are becoming an endangered species, more of us are becoming aware of all this fermenting that goes on beneath the smiling surface - what the poet/priest R.S.Thomas memorably referred to as "the dark filling in their smiling sandwich" ("The Priest") and feeling at a loss how to deal with it. It's easy if you revert to what for some of us are basic instincts - but these are not often helpful. The unreconstructed me would like to savage the girner with all the skill of long practice - but this would probably be A Bad Thing. So I won't.
Blogging as catharsis, eh? Great.