There is no typical day in the life of a vicar. Before the pandemic, an average day might consist of morning prayer, a midweek eucharist service, catching up with emails, visiting our community café, doing some admin, going on home visits and a meeting or two in the evening. Vicars are often described as being “paid not to work” – what that means is, although you might have a lot on, you’re available and around. You should never be too “busy” for people – I think that’s a damaging, corporate word.
Since the pandemic, the workload has been consistent, but different. At the moment, my time is split between three days in the parish and three days across two hospitals in Nottingham. I can’t physically be with my congregation right now, but all of the admin, preparation for worship, meetings and pastoral stuff goes on – it’s just moved online. I’ve had to become an expert in livestreaming and Zoom, which takes time, and mentally it takes up a lot more headspace. Celebrating the eucharist from behind the altar and looking out at loads of empty seats is still a very odd thing.
One of the things I’m finding most difficult is that I love people and I love being alongside them – to physically not be with them during this time is hard. I’m also careful to protect my own mental health: when you’re in the parish or the vicarage, you feel like you’re always “on”, but vicars are also human. In the past I’d disappear into town if I needed a break, settle into a coffeeshop and write my sermon; just being in a different place was mentally uplifting. Now, that’s not possible.
But it’s strange; even though we’re far apart, we’ve never felt so united as a congregation.
I’m a hospital chaplain working during the coronavirus crisis – it’s the funerals that are the hardest https://t.co/WAM2OyFNCb
— The Independent (@Independent) May 28, 2020