The Gap Year

My National Clergy Listing in the Australian Anglican Directory is a scant entry but even so my Gap Year gets an official mention – ‘Lve of Abs 1991’. Not much as a mention but my ‘Lve of Abs’ was very eventful. I learnt a language, worked as a zimmerman, did a brief locum for the Church of the Ascension in Munich, celebrated the birth of our first child  …… to list just a few of the highlights of 1991! It was a wonderful year that took me out of my comfort zone and broadened my world.

So, whenever it is taken, I’m all for the Gap Year.

George Herbert in his poem ‘Matins’ longs for a broader perspective to be his daily endeavour and it occurs to me that his daily desire might also enrich an entire Gap Year experience.

Herbert’s broader perspective is to acknowledge not just the creation but also the creator. He muses that though we should live our lives in service to God we can all to easily focus on the creation and fail to consider  ‘Him by whom they be’. Each verse of the poem is arranged in ‘sunrise-steps’ to encourage our thoughts ever to climb expansively to include both ‘the work and workman’. The final stanza is a prayer, to be used daily, so that we might achieve this bigger perspective.

                  ‘Teach me thy love to know;
            That this new light, which now I see,
            May both the work and workman show:

Then by a sunne-beam I will climbe to thee.’

(The whole poem is at the bottom of this Blog entry)


I recently placed this final stanza on the back of a card for some friends who were taking a Gap Year. I hoped that as they took in the wonder of the wider world so they would also be shown increasingly the wonder of God.

On the flip side of the card, around words making the acronym TRIP, I put the following four questions:

  • What Testimony do I leave?
  • How best will I Record this moment?
  • How and to what does this Inspire me?
  • Are any of my Plans affected by this moment?

Perhaps I should keep a copy of this card handy so that, though the Gap Years be few and far between, I might make the most of each new day.

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T.R.I.P. – Questions expanded.

Testimony – What Testimony do I leave?

(People will form an opinion of you so it is always important to consider the impact of our words and actions)

Record – How best will I Record this moment?

(Photo’s, journals, conversations, blogs, etc. I find that making a record gives a better chance of allowing an event to constructively shape me.)

Inspire – How and to what does this Inspire me?

(Any moment has the potential to inspire but getting to the point of ‘naming’ what it might inspire me to do is a step that is often overlooked.)

Plans – Are any of my Plans affected by this moment?

(I guess we all have plans but its OK to contemplate a change …..sometimes Gap Years are good at changing plans!!)

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Matins by George Herbert

                           I Cannot ope mine eyes,
            But thou art ready there to catch
            My morning-soul and sacrifice:
Then we must needs for that day make a match.
 
                                    My God, what is a heart?
            Silver, or gold, or precious stone,
            Or starre, or rainbow, or a part
Of all these things, or all of them in one?
               
                                    My God, what is a heart?
            That thou shouldst it so eye, and wooe,
            Powring upon it all thy art,
As if that thou hadst nothing els to do?
 
                                    Indeed mans whole estate
            Amounts (and richly) to serve thee:
            He did not heav’n and earth create,
Yet studies them, not him by whom they be.
 
                                    Teach me thy love to know;
            That this new light, which now I see,
            May both the work and workman show:

Then by a sunne-beam I will climbe to thee.


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