Well, it should be fairly obvious by now that I'm back from Geek Camp! Translated a lot of Latin, ate a lot of fudge, and all in the shadow of Wells Cathedral. What with all that Latin and fudge, and the cathedral, and the pretty, pretty town, and all the oldy-worldiness, and cream teas, I was a very happy girl. I've also realised that I just can't give up Latin for good. I'm hoping I'll be allowed to sit in on the Latin Language and Reading course next year, maybe take it unofficially. I'm also hoping I might be able to sneak into the back of a few lectures in the English department which I'm missing out on because of course restrictions. It all depends on time, really. I have an astonishing knack for wasting time, and for sleeping too much, and I am planning to do Chapel every morning, the Christian Union, CU cells, Old English Reading Group, be secretary of the Classical Society and help put on the play, run the Writers' Circle, be Head of Writing in the Creative Arts Society, join the History Society, and maybe even have something resembling a social life.
In terms of vocation, things have come on quite a long way. It's actually tremendously exciting and proving to be a really joyful process. I mean, I'm beginning to see something of the future God might have planned for me and I think, wow, could I possibly be any more blessed than... well, than I thought I was already? I read on the Church of England website that if you're discerning, you need to read a lot of books about ordination, etc. I stumbled on this wonderful church in Wells called St. Cuthbert's, and they had a few books out on sale, and one was The Life and Work of a Priest by John Pritchard. So I bought that. I'm reading it now and it's very good.
I also spoke to the chaplain in the cathedral at length. He said some three very helpful things in particular:
1. Imagine you're in a corridor, with closed doors on either side of you and a succession of closed doors in front. Walk ahead, opening doors as you go. You may have to push for some of them. But, in the end, if God doesn't want you to go through a door, you won't get through it. I found this so reassuring because it takes a lot of the pressure off me: I worried that I would mistakenly become ordained, when it wasn't God's will at all, just myself being fanciful.
2. The chaplain told me that, the day before his ordination, the bishop asked him if God wanted him to be a priest because he couldn't trust him as a layman!
3. The chaplain also said that he still wasn't entirely sure, after 40 years of ministry! You will never be 100% sure. Of course it needs a lot of thinking and praying and talking to other Christians about, but at some point I may just have to go for it, because God is unlikely to send down a big banner with flashing lights.
I also did quite a bit of reading while I was away. Wells is brilliant for charity shops and book shops and things. I found an antique shop, where I bought Revelations of Divine Love by Mother Julian of Norwich - a Medieval anchoress who claimed to have had a vision from God - and a book of sermons for 50p each! I found a copy of the latest Phillippa Gregory novel, The Boleyn Inheritance, for 99p as well, which I was dead pleased with. I read it in about five minutes, as I always do with Philippa Gregory, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Her Tudor books are a little samey, but samey's fine with me if I like it enough. I finished Asta's Book by Barbara Vine as well. It was a little slow to catch my attention but by the end I was captivated - it was a really good plot.
I also bought some really ancient Latin school texts for practising, a selection of poetry and a biography of Hannibal by Nepos. I mustn't let my Latin slide again. And I must start on my Old English, though there's time enough for those. I've started another new novel, just a few ideas really, about a group of Classics students at Oxford. I met so many in Wells! I've settled into what I guess you'd call "a gentle pace of life," been picking blackberries in the garden and making crumble, sewing, planning next term's schedule for Writers' Circle... but I feel a bit like I'm retired. I get so frustrated with myself for being so lethargic and getting so little done. I do actually have things to do, and I can go a whole day and achieve nothing. That's one precious day of my life gone. And I know I'll never write well, or indeed do anything well, if I continue to waste time instead of using it to learn.