Everyone knows that all parishioners want from their priest is someone who will visit. Oh, they like a nicely done liturgy, a good choice of hymns (‘their’ favourites if possible), and short sermons but at the end of the day your theology could be to the right of Genghis Khan but they wouldn’t care a jot as long as they get a visit from time to time.
So every priest, when they start a new job, plans to visit. A lot. Especially in the first few months. Of course, the first few months are hectic with finding your way around, dealing with property issues, learning the ropes and asking questions to anyone who looks like they might know a thing or two. And before you know it, the weeks have turned to months and so far you’ve only been inside two parishioner’s houses – and they were the ones who invited you to dinner. (That’s the secret, by the way. And it doesn’t have to be dinner – coffee (decaff) will do!)
Now, of course, the weather has put paid to any visiting. I can’t get out for my own bread and milk, never mind anybody else’s. (Well that’s not strictly true as I did eventually get out and scared myself witless in the process. And hasn’t the scenery changed so much so that I haven’t a clue where I am?) So this afternoon I have been doing pastoral phone calls. “Are you okay? Are you managing to get supplies in? Are you warm enough?” That sort of thing. And it has been most incredible hearing stories of kind neighbours and risky journeys undertaken by sons and daughters who live in Edinburgh or Glasgow. All are well. Paths get cleared. Nobody is starving. (I’ve lost almost 7lbs which is a bonus.) Of course, nobody can get out onto a pavement that is safe to walk on but they are all doing well.
Me? Oh I’ve got cabin fever again and really needed to speak to people. So the phone calls have made me feel so much better, thank you very much.