Day one as an ordinand began in chapel, where we were invited to keep silence.
I closed my eyes and vaguely asked God for some kind of sign to make me feel right about being here. The one I got when I opened my eyes again wasn't vague: right outside the chapel window is a large aluminium sign, a red warning circle around the word SLOW in bold capitals. Hardly subtle, Lord, but then you know sometimes I need un-subtle.
It was a warm, growthy, sun-shiny day. Sunlight filled the chapel so it looked like a conservatory. The trees were primary-school green with a stripe of September gold; the sky was a perfect blue bowl.
In the window, two spider webs fluttered in and out of sight like holograms in the stiff breeze.
A few rusty leaves fell from the big tree, like the first grains of sand in an hourglass counting down to the end of autumn term and the Christmas holiday.
Everyone says once we get into the swing of things, the weeks will disappear like snow off a ditch. We have been well warned to manage time carefully, choose essay topics early, arrive punctually to lectures and services, plan ahead where we will do placements.
Why would God be telling me to go slow?
0.8 weeks in, the pace already seems rather relentless. Supinely attending lectures is not an option. The amount of work required is going to be as heavy as they said it would!
It would be very possible to get overwhelmed by all the activity. I'll need silences like the one last Monday morning. Silences that serve as white margins between sections so as not to drown in words.
Times to think slowly. Savour, digest, internalize.
In under twelve weeks now, that big tree will be bare of leaves. And when I walk under its boughs to get the bus home in mid-December, I hope I've remembered God's warning sign to me on day one: in the frenetic thick of things, take some things slowly. Enjoy them. Enjoy him.