Monday, 9 April 2012

The Island of Sans Surplice

It is almost a thing of myth and wonder - where do clergy go on Easter Monday and Boxing Day, whence they do not return for a week?

For it is a fact beyond doubt, Gentle Reader, that they do indeed disappear. Like the dolphins and the bees, the unicorns or Tolkien's elves, they depart from sight if not from mind - but where to?

I remember a Dave Walker cartoon, long and merry ago, that showed a bunker under the Parochial House, manse or vicarage, where the vicar hid on days off. And certainly among those clergy who won't brazen it out and just admit they never really take their days off, off, there is a group that will pull the blinds down and watch Jeremy Kyle with the headphones on (the clergy, not Jeremy Kyle, with the headphones).

But a full week of skulking in such a manner would surely try the souls of the hardiest of sabbath-needing clergyfolk. And so they do have to go away. And yet, like Santa, nobody ever sees them come or go for their weeks off after Easter and Xmas.

This is because, within every clergy house, there is a clergy wardrobe. And within the wardrobe there is a portal to a wormhole in space. And that wormhole leads to the island of Sans Surplice.

And what a place is Sans Surplice. The Moltmann bird gaily shows off its plumage as it sits among the swaying arms of the Brueggemann Tree. The tides are always gentle, as the Sea of Sermons washes up the Platitudinous Beach (although skinny-dipping has been disallowed since the introduction of female clergy). It is a place where no phone rings, no emails can be received, no door can be banged at six in the morning by a parishioner concerned that s/he does not understand the fourth of the 39 Articles or has not read all of Wesley's sermons. A member of the clergy can relax, knowing that no constraints will be made on her/his time; that there are no assemblies full of children who are practising for the London 2018 Riots, that there are no minutes to approve or people with slight coughs wondering why they've not received a visit yet. They can take it easy, flying their favourite theological kite or maybe going for a spin on their Pastoral Cycle.

Most clergy last about half a day. Then they're back through the wormhole, in the front room with the curtains closed, checking their emails and going through the answerphone messages. But they're ever so pleased to have had the break. Recharges the batteries a treat, does the island of Sans Surplice.

1 comment :

  1. I once encountered a Vicar on a break from Ministry. He had disguised himself as a Bishop, and everybody knew that he was doing nothing, so left him alone.



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