May 14th, 2005

Frantic Days

I dreamed that I'd been given three quarters of an hour to devise an entire church service. And I was having to do it while travelling to the venue. My daughter was with me and I was bouncing ideas off her. We decided on an opening hymn. One down, five to go. And then it suddenly hit me that I'd have to deliver a sermon.

My anxiety dreams almost always return me to my life as a clergyman. Frantic days. I was close to panic all the time. Stretched, stressed, stifled.

I was two weeks into the job- in the heatwave summer of 1976- and cycling home from morning prayer, when it first occured to me that I'd given my heart away. Down the hill I went with the sun on my back and the wind on my face and it was almost as if I were free- only these weren't my own clothes I was wearing but a black uniform shirt with one of those white, slave-collar things around the neck.

I pushed the thought away. But once you're wounded by the truth you stay wounded. I had ten more years of thinking other people's thoughts and speaking other people's words before I got myself into such a pickle that I had no option but to walk away.