Changing identities

A few months ago when visiting and showing the Beardy One around Ipswich, i was asked (over the obligatory glass of vino blanco) how long i thought it would take for my identity to change.  At the time i thought it an odd question – it’s just me – who i am, how i react, what i think/say/feel. These things, these aspects of my consiousness are all intertwined, intermingled like a finely woven blanket. Each affects the other in the warp and the weft to create the picture that is Ali.  Maybe I didn’t quite grasp the subtlety of the question – for even at this stage there are slight changes to that weft – a different hue here and there.

Of course there are the obvious things – the stopping mid-sentence to correct a comment based on simple geography and tense: “we do it…” to “when in Scotland we did it….”  (that has happened a lot!), the smiles and “hello vicar” over the road at the shops from multitudious strangers, “Guess where the vicar’s from!” games with the P3’s at one local school (sorry – Year 3’s – there i go again!)  All part of the culture shift and re-becoming English after 18 years in Scotland. Not a rebranding or re-invention, but discovery and integration of the new.

It’s the not-so-obvious things which will take time to get my head around – shifts in understanding of my role within this community, in this team.  Some aspects are tied in with the “state church” stuff and the establishment (and still pretty alien), some with the sense of being a part of something much bigger institutionally.  The size still throws me a wee bit – at the clergy conference 2 weeks ago it was slightly overwhelming.  Now its just big, and I am a part of it.  Discovering where i fit in to this wider machine is part of the journey, and at the moment much is still shrouded in the mists of the unknown.  Whether or not it becomes any clearer remains to be seen, but there is fun and excitement in the discovery.

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4 thoughts on “Changing identities

  1. Sue says:

    Week 2 and u r doing good ,dont work too hard in this alien heat. We will all still be here when it cools down.x

  2. Eamonn says:

    It would be a loss to the world if ‘the picture that is Ali’ changed radically. But don’t be afraid to celebrate when, in your new situation, you discover qualities you didn’t know you had.

    • Ali says:

      its a strange thing Eamonn – at the Licensing were people from every major stage in my life since those initial tentative steps into a life of faith aged 19. That is what set my semi-reflective waffle in this direction, really. Knowing that in many ways i am not that same person, or the same one that stepped into the unknown 5 years later to go to uni, or 5 years after that into ordination training.

      That each of those times (including the curacy and the first charge) were represented at the licensing by people I know and love from those marker points in my life was extremely poignant and quite humbling. Maybe its age and wisdom (???) which allows me the luxury now of wondering what the picture will look like as i get my head & heart round the new role and context. Still the same Ali, but not quite – it could merely be my lifelong need to shake the presents under the Christmas tree, or skip to the last page of the whodunnit…

      • Eamonn says:

        Maybe that’s what being born again is really about! Nicodemus was led to understand it, not as something totally new emerging, but as a person re-entering the birthplace and emerging renewed.

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