Clergy Corner

A Life in the Day of…


I live with my wife, Sylvia, both having retired from parish ministry to Ringwood some 13 years ago. We have three married daughters and six grandchildren ranging in age from twenty-three to nine. Over the years I have been welcomed into the ministry teams at both Ringwood and Fordingbridge, with particular involvement at Poulner, Ellingham and Hyde, with the prayerful and practical support of Sylvia.

Our day begins with the radio-alarm at 7am, and a mug of tea in bed… chatting though the day ahead and then reading together some Bible verses from a book given to us from one of our previous parishes which sets the pattern for the day. Downstairs by 8am for a cereal breakfast followed by our reading together from the Bible passage and notes from “Our Daily Bread”.

Our breakfast prayers together come from a rather dog-eared prayer diary, divided into pages for each day, and include friends from our former parishes as well as current churches, leaders in the deanery and diocese, people with particular needs… Using prayer diaries from the national church, Lee Abbey and overseas missions, we conclude by naming each member of our family and praying for any particular events they are involved in today.

We only use the dishwasher once a week, giving us time together at the sink – washing up, planning meals and necessary shopping – usually twice a week in Ringwood, sometimes further afield, depending on the restrictions of lockdown. Earlier in lockdown we managed a walk in the forest.

Sylvia is the cook in our house, and always has been – she helped organise catering at the church we grew up in and has seen to our nourishments ever since, daughters and grandchildren following in her wake. I only drive the Breadmaker! I then scan through the newspaper (delivered before 7am) and then head up to the study for a quiet time centred on the Bible and maybe a current Christian book – secular books are scattered around us in the lounge or beside the bed for late-night reading.

Over the past months, means of communication have changed and developed. Phone calls can be expected from 8am to 10pm, a pattern inherited from over 40 years in parish ministry. Now friends know not to phone us between noon and 2pm as we eat our main meal midday and that usually results in a snooze! Monday and Thursday mornings include an hour with a Zoom Staff Meeting, including prayers and Communion, and catching up with team members and events in the churches – things that have happened and events expected. Planning services, weekday meetings, taking the occasional funeral, Bible Studies and Zoom meetings. And when I retired I thought I wouldn’t need a diary!!

After lunch it’s time for the crossword and a longer time with the paper and any news that’s arrived in the post – news and prayer letters from various missions that we support. If it’s fine, out in the garden or for a short walk around the houses or out into the forest through the gate at the end of the road. If it’s wet, a few jobs around the house, using the cleaner, maybe some time on the model railway, often more reading – or later in the day phoning or emailing round some folk living alone. After tea and the 6pm news, Mondays might be the Zoom housegroup Bible Study and a catch-up with some familiar faces and news of the group, maybe Skyping the eldest grand-daughter in France, or a family we know in Bethlehem. Often, family members are on the phone checking up that the parents are behaving.

Occasionally we are invited to tune into Zoom lectures from the Holy Land. We have missed visiting there this year, and try to keep up with the restrictions they are facing and at the same time hoping that taking a group next year will be a real possibility, health and other circumstances permitting.

We miss the familiarity of casual face-to-face meetings during lockdown – so the phone, Zoom, Facebook and Skype come into their own, especially in the evenings – when there is so little of interest on the television! Pre-recordings of documentaries and old films come into their own. We have super, caring neighbours in our little crescent, enjoyed clapping the NHS with them, and keeping a non-intrusive eye on each other – and lighting up the house as Christmas approaches!

Best advice I was given: Love the Lord, love your wife, love your family, love your neighbour.

Advice I’d give: Get to know your loving Heavenly Father through the Bible.

What I wish I’d known: More about the background of our parents and family.

A video of Michael’s Life in the Day of…’ can be seen here: