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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Monday, April 26, 2004
    Labyrinthine
     
    To see it as a labyrinth or a maze you would have to agree it had a centre. This is a map of the estate I live and work on. I'm still lost manouvering my way around it because it doesn't have a physical - or social - centre. Some roads lead somewhere but if you're in search of shops, or places of worship, or any kind of services, the only direction you can go is outwards. All these things are across the dual carriageways which fringe the twisty-curly-patterned mass of housing which is Norris Green.

    This week I have made a contract, between myself and a clergy colleague-mentor, to spend the next six months in active observation of the community I'm now in, recording what I find in conversations and through other initiatives like taking focussed walks to develop a picture of the social geography of the place.

    It's a chance to engage with some of the good resources I was introduced to in training: Hopewell's Congregation: Stories and Structures and Bailey's Implicit Religion come immediately to mind.

    It's also a chance to get to know my way around. People who've lived here a while know. My predecessor said there was no problem. I think I shall take this approach - I shall regard the parish grid as a labyrinth. With the people, the people at the centre.