It struck me recently that I had been out of industry a very long time, in fact almost as long as I was in it. Then as I pondered further, I realised a rather curious, and wonderful, symmetry...
For the first eighteen years of my life I was a child. I can remember three of the (several) homes we lived in, all three primary, one 'middle' and one 'upper' school I attended along the way. And today, whilst doing some mulling recalled that I was the first girl in my school to take 'A' level in Physics and Tech Drawing, along with the fact our school was probably ahead of its time because no-one considered it odd that I took tech drawing to 'O' level (quite a few girls did) or that my brother took home economics. I recall wishing it had been possible to take more than four 'A' levels, as I'd have loved to do English and RE as well as my sciences and maths.
For the next eighteen years, I was an engineer, or training to be one. Three years at university in London, with a sandwich year in Derby, gaining first class honours and the odd prize along the way. Four years total in Derby, and eleven in Knutsford for a different company. I was the only girl on my course in my year, and being a swat, came top. I think, overall, I was pretty good at what I did, and made a useful contribution to keeping hazardous industries safe enough.
The eighteen years up to the present, are ministry and training for it. Four years in Manchester, in an ecumenical training cohort that was roughly equal numbers of men and women. Another first class honours degree (cos I really am a girly swat) and (later) an MPhil. Training placements in Catholic and Anglican churches as well as Baptist. A semi-rural pastorate and now an urban one. I'm never sure how to measure competence in ministry, but I think I do OK on the whole, and am privileged to serve some amazing people.
I kind of like the 18 - 18 - 18 pattern but, in case anyone is wondering, I have no plans to make any changes any time soon! Another 18 years, 'if I am spared' as our West Indian friends would say, would take me well into retirement (I think I currently have 13 or 14 years to state pension age) and, to be honest, is way too far ahead to contemplate. For now, I am just enjoying the symmetry and reflecting on what an amazing and fulfilling life I have lived this far.