Published on Thu, 1 Nov 2018 00:00

At my retirement assembly from my position as deputy head I read the following poem by Jenny Joseph, much to the amusement of Year 6.


When I am an old woman I shall wear purple

With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.

And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves

And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.

I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired

And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells

And run my stick along the public railings

And make up for the sobriety of my youth.

I shall go out in my slippers in the rain

And pick flowers in other people's gardens

And learn to spit.

Well, I haven't actually done those things, although I occasionally indulge in a brandy, but perhaps I still have time, as I don't feel that I am yet an old woman. Though I think it's rather too late to think that I might wear purple in the Church sense, or a red hat for that matter.

However, now, as then, I knew that life would change, and it did!

It feels rather strange to be retiring for the second time.

Since I retired from teaching, people have sometimes said to me, “You’re still a teacher aren't you!” Well, that's probably true!

And I shall definitely always be a priest. That is something that does not end at retirement. It is for life, and that is a wonderful privilege and blessing but also a sacred responsibility that I take very seriously.

I do not know what lies ahead; none of us does. I have some half formed plans, including spending a few months away from ‘duties,’ seeing a little more of family and friends, reading some of the many books I have stockpiled over the last ten years, hopefully visiting France a couple of times and, most importantly, finding space and time to listen to what God has to say to me about the future.

It is very likely that I shall ask to have Permission to Officiate, so that I am authorized to take services occasionally where needed. If that happens I shall most probably be attached to St. Mark’s as an official base.

But I really have no idea of the details.

God may have something totally different in store for me, but I know that I can trust God’s grace to assist me in my place in the body of Christ and in, ‘all such good works as prepared for us to walk in,’ to quote the Book of Common Prayer.

Whatever the future may hold, St. Mark’s will always have a special place in my heart. It has been ‘my’ church since I was five, and has included Sunday School and St. Mark’s Junior School, Girl Guides in what is now the Church Centre, the Church Youth Club in the old Church House, singing in the choir from when I was fifteen until I was ordained, being married to my husband, Robin here in 1965 - little did he know that he would eventually be a ‘clergy spouse,’ - serving on the PCC, Deanery and Diocesan Synods as a lay person, my children’s Baptisms and finally the enormous privilege and pleasure of serving here, first as a deacon and then as a priest.

It has been really good to work with Tim, with everyone else who plays a part in the organization and running of St. Mark’s and most of all to be part of the splendid, loving, praying community of this church.

 Love, Prayers and Blessings,

Joy

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