Hadrian and studying

I have ticked two more things off the lent list, though one was arranged a year ago, its significance to my Lent Thing becoming clear recently.  I’ve also decided this is going to not be a Lent thing, and continue to be a “thing” instead – I have a lot of labels that need peeling off and I don’t want to stop because my 40 days are almost up.

At the beginning of April I completed a walk along the course of the historic Hadrian’s Wallwith my friend Adele. The course of the wall is 84miles long but we were scuppered by high tides at the beginning and high walls at the end so in total we walked 77miles in 6 days.

The reason this is a ‘thing’ is because I grew up as a proper outdoor girl, loving being outside in our garden, the park, in towns and cities, and further afield in the wilds of anywhere I could get to. I knew from the age of 14 I was going to study geology, find out more about our planet, how to look after it, how it came to be.  My degree required me to spend a lot of time outside, I even spent a month on the Isle of Skye geologically mapping the land. Then I spent 3 years in Dorset teaching kids about the Jurassic Coastline as well as various adventure activities like Quad biking and Archery.  And when I chose to join the Environment Agency, over a few other job offers I had at the time, the emphasis on being out and about meeting people, observing changes in our environment, helping to enhance and protect it, drove that choice.
Then I became a manager. Years of desk sitting, computer work, endless conversations and round robin emails. It had its upsides and successes but it robbed me of energy, time and enthusiasm for being out and about. The tiredness and stress I’ve recounted in previous posts meant when it came to holidays and weekends, where I’d usually been keen to get into fresh air, I became a couch potato, wanting to recuperate, not regain my joie de vivre by breathing fresh air.  In addition, my fitness level plummeted to new lows. I went from being able to amble up the Old Man of Coniston seven days in a row to map its strata,  to mostly walking from the car park to my desk.
When I signed up to walk Hadrian’s wall with Adele for charity it was a badly thought through commitment, that would lead to last minute panic over my fitness. I did train, doing a number of 6-7 mile walks in the weeks before the climb, but I had been scuppered in doing consecutive walks by various commitments and ill health. The challenge of Hadrian wasn’t walking 14miles in a day, but doing it 6 days in a row. I am not going to describe the walk here – mainly because most of the hilarity, difficulties and comedy moments, you just had to be there for but we did it. I’m still recovering, I think I may have damaged my right knee but I am incredibly proud to have accomplished something that brought back some of the old me.
I always intended to do a Masters degree at some point, but wasconvinced it would have to be for a specific purpose – thinking that I would pick the course because it would be enabling a career change or a promotion. Given the ever increasing costs involved in returning to university I was convinced any study would have to be definitively for known outcome to make it financially worthwhile.
I have just applied for and been invited to join a Graduate Diploma course in Kingdom Theology with Westminster Theological Centre – which means from September I’ll be a student again! I will studying part time, travelling to and from Ealing once a week for evening study sessions.  I attended a taster session at St Paul’s Church and was immediately touched and enthused by the course content and the Spirit filled staff.  I prayed a lot, spoke to Rob, my family, my church leader and everyone was incredibly supportive. It is going to cost quite a lot of money, but I know God is providing already and will continue to do so – I am sure this is a course He wants me on.
I have no idea where it will lead and that feeling is incredibly liberating. Some would say it is selfish given the costs involved but I want to study mission, theology, leadership, doctrine and see where God leads me. I want to be informed, get my mind working in an academic way again, and see how the theological lessons will inform the life I want to live for Christ.
I would never have been able to do this had I been in my previous job, I just didn’t have the time, energy or brain capacity to spare. God is so faithful and I am trying to be so in return. If you have been following my journey at all, you’ll know this is an amazing blessing – a fulfilment of the promises God has made to me about fresh beginnings, changes in pace and a taste of what focussing on him will bring.
I am just little old me, and yet He is infinitely interested in the smallest detail of my life. And yours too!

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