Day Zero…

Do you remember that famous love story where boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, they plan to get married and a global pandemic hits and keeps them apart for nearly two years?? No, me either. But that’s my story; that’s our story; and that’s why, I find myself here, in a hotel room at Sydney Harbour, on “day zero” of my 14-day quarantine, just waiting to begin the next chapter in the rest of my life.

Maybe I should introduce myself (in case anyone ever stumbles across this blog who isn’t a Facebook friend or family member!)…

I’m Gemma.

A priest in the Anglican Church.

A lover of food and Jesus, and particularly fond of combining the two.

A proud dog-parent to Maggie (she will be a feature. Guaranteed).

A daughter, a sister, a friend, an auntie, a relative and a soon-to-be wife (please God) of the boy from paragraph one. My Craig.

I first met Craig way back in about 2004; this tall, bald-headed, potty mouthed, builder was standing and speaking at a Christian conference-type-thing, and I thought he was pretty special. In my own, awkward, way I tried to flirt (awful). He didn’t notice (standard). He mentioned his family and their plans to emigrate to Australia and there he was, gone (gutted).

And then nothing, for around 15 years

Fast forward to 2019 and our paths crossed again – virtually – via Facebook Messenger. Time had moved on, things had changed. I had got ordained. Craig had a great life down under and it would have been a completely stupid idea to fall in love, wouldn’t it? 10,000 miles apart? Both of us really happy where we lived and worked and neither wanting to move? Yup, that would be a completely stupid idea.

So, why am I sat on the 24th floor of the Sydney Harbour Marriott hotel with my capsule wardrobe (that’ll feature too; game changer), a pile of books, and a countdown to fresh air and human contact?!

In short, the answer to that is two-fold: the simple matter of a Global Pandemic and a tricksy God with an invitation I couldn’t turn down.

The thing about a pandemic being global means we’ve all experienced it, so you don’t need a(nother) blog to talk about cancelled travel plans, closed borders, postponed weddings, not seeing loved ones and how that combination creates the perfect storm to change perspectives. That’s a given, right?

But the Tricksy God thing might need a bit of unfolding.

There have been times in my life where I can, hand-on-heart, say I believe I have heard from God. I don’t say it lightly, nor often, because God is like Almighty and the Creator of the Universe, and all.  But sometimes I have felt called, or drawn, or led, or nudged, or booted up the backside, by that Source of All Life.

A while back I made a crazy promise (learn from me; don’t make promises like this lightly or you too might find yourself somewhere you never imagined). Anyways, a while back I kind of promised and kind of bargained with God a bit (again, risky). I said to God, ‘God, if I ever think you’re asking me to do something, I promise I will do it. If I’m not sure what you’re asking me to do I will do what I want to until you guide me otherwise’. It had a theological basis – check out this gorgeous prayer from Thomas Merton – https://reflections.yale.edu/article/seize-day-vocation-calling-work/merton-prayer – and I really meant it. Not in a ‘I’ll do what I want unless you stop me’ kind of way, but in a ‘I really want to do your will, if you will show me, Lord’.

During the UK lockdowns I had some pretty incredible moments with God. I realised for the first time that I am utterly loved by God – not for doing anything or being anything but just because. That was a great moment (and continues to be). And I also heard this call. It went something like this… ‘Babes (that was a new lockdown thing too – I know, it’s kind of odd to me too, but I like it so…) do you want to come on a holy adventure with me?’

God, in God’s infinite and warm grace and welcome was holding God’s hand out to me and inviting me on a holy adventure. I had never heard God speak to me like that before and it was kind of intriguing to start with. But God went on, ‘we can cause holy chaos together! I would love you to come. Come if you want!’

Come if you want? God was letting me choose? But how could I ever pass up an opportunity to go on a holy adventure, cause holy chaos, holy mischief even, with the King of all Kings? Particularly when God had been so kind as to extend the invitation!

God said so much more and has opened doors and borders where it didn’t seem possible but I’ll stop here for now. If I am going to be a Holy Adventurer, I need to kick this jet lag into touch and get some sleep!

Oh, and I’m determined to blog something on each of the 14 days of lockdown, and then regularly beyond that, so please keep me company. It’s pretty lonely up here!