Here I am, back in harness for my second and final year of pre-ordination training: lots of new faces, lots of familiar ones, a sense of anticipation. For this year's leavers, there's a mood change. Some have curacies sorted out near to where they were sent from, some in other places, the rest are at various stages of the search.
There's been some freshening up, lots of new paint, lots of old furniture. Which is a bit like us, as we are sent out, fresh paint ready to be slapped on somewhere.
And - of course - there are rapidly filling diaries and rotas, there are bills and kitties: this is the Church, after all.
More than one conversation has shown me that many of us are already experiencing that sense that what's a few months ahead is more real than this immediate future. I don't want to lose touch with that sense of destination, or rather of that sense of the next station in this journey; but nor do I want to lose out on the present, on these precious, privileged months of close fellowship, on the opportunities there may be to serve in this city.
It's Autumn, and we are leaves reddening for the coming fall. In the natural way of things, the next step is a drying to dust or a dampening to mould. It takes the eyes of faith to see the possibility of ingrafting to another tree, leading to new growth and a new sharing of life.