December Reflections 9: this was unexpected

detail of a wooden cross sculpture formed of overlapping narrow triangles

I didn’t expect to be elected lay director of Ely Cursillo. Certainly not this year. I’d thought, well, maybe in a year or two, when J. steps down, when I’ve got my head around things a bit better…

J. stepped down this year, not long before the AGM, and suddenly it became very clear that I should step up. Two years of irritatedly demanding of God what on earth I was meant to be doing if it wasn’t ordained ministry (wrong question, as it turned out, but that’s another story), ten years of trade union administration, all came into very sharp focus in this moment when it was obvious that somebody needed to keep this thing going, and that I was, in this moment, the only person with the skills and the confidence and the willingness to do it.

Cursillo is a funny old movement. (Well, actually it’s quite a young movement – 70 years or so.) Most Christians have never heard of it and a lot of those who have heard of it have heard genuinely offputting stories. (Yes, I know. We don’t do that any more.) But my experience – I was one of those who’d never heard of it, and initially wondered if the person who mentioned it to me meant the calculator brand – was positive and transformative. I went on my Cursillo four years ago and found that it was exactly what I needed; it was part of a period of spiritual exploration in which I discovered over and over again that God didn’t want me to be the person I thought I was meant to be; God wants me to be the person I am.

There’s a lot of lay influence (the spiritual director and I work as joint leaders). For me, as someone who’s comparatively well-informed for someone who hasn’t done a theology degree, but who keeps getting directed away from ordained ministry (and feeling very relieved about that), this is hugely important. Being part of a movement that values the laity and demonstrates that by putting us in decision-making positions, that encourages and helps us to develop our prayer life and our learning and to put them into action, has given me a way to be a Christian in a way that I can feel that I can give more of what I have, and not just within Cursillo itself. And that’s a privilege.

Quite apart from the administration side. (This too is a spiritual gift, I am given to understand.) Today I’ve been up and down the hill like a yo-yo, buying stamps, collecting cards, getting bank mandates signed. At home, I’ve been wrestling with LibreOffice Writer’s take on mailmerge and humouring the printer’s request to slide green tabs back and forwards. This is by no means a typical day – in fact it’s a lot of jobs I’d saved up until I had a day to do them in – but it’s one that brought it home to me why I’m doing this stuff. Because I’m good at it.

So no, I didn’t expect to be lay director only four years after hearing about Cursillo. But it makes a surprising amount of sense. Just goes to show: I’m not really the one in charge.

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