Sunday, September 09, 2012


And yes, once again the unexpected sneaks up when I’m not looking. Like just a few minutes ago I heard a strange noise on my motorhome roof, like a pattering sound which I initially guessed was the wind maybe blowing leaves off an adjacent tree. But I absolutely couldn’t believe it when I realised that it was actually raining! My photo illustrates the uninterrupted view I’ve enjoyed for the past couple of days. I reckon the best weather of the year. Perfect. And exactly what I hoped for and expected to enjoy when I travelled to Deal a week ago. Yes, yes it’s been great all week really, though the best came last. Cloudy weather is consigned to history and soon forgotten. The real problem is that I’ve just spent the weekend mostly indoors, usually scurrying past this incredible view on my way to church meetings. Never saw that one coming. Returning to my van in the dark involved an even more spectacular view which I’d forgotten existed, and I’m not just talking about the gentle sparkle of lightships across the English Channel. And I was too tired to play with my camera tripod, so sorry no pic of that today. I’m actually talking about the night sky, as seen away from the light pollution I experience in Derby City. Marvellous. I feel so very happy.

The real surprise though has been the workshop I’ve attended over the past 3 days. To be honest the teaching topic, even though engaging, was very much secondary to the company and friendship I’ve experienced with many of those attending. I suspect that my deep loneliness had a lot to do with it but it was a real surprise to find myself talking to so many nice people. I felt totally welcomed and completely accepted. No matter my habit of talking too much… don’t all lonely people do that? Go find any young mum who has only had tiny tots for company all day, they’ll illustrate quite nicely what I’m talking about. This church is rather different from any other church I’ve connected with, and not without a certain amount of controversy. It’s distinctive is that it is a Therapeutic Faith Community, overseen by mental health professionals. Nonetheless very definitely Christ centred and attended by those who have very particular challenges, some drawn there from right across the globe.

So today I sat on the sea front enjoying a particularly empathic conversation with a young woman living in Belgium who works as a mental health worker in an oncology unit. She had very clear understanding of palliative care. Very satisfying to share with someone who understands. And she seemed to be a worship leader as well. I enjoyed doctrinal debate with a guy from New Zealand, and gained insight into the world of Whitehall and the Foreign Office… hey, they don’t like the coalition surprise, surprise. Then a lady, who was once a friend of my wife, wrote and performed a very special worship song in the folk genre at the main church meeting this morning. Great. I was totally surprised after I gave a word from the Lord to someone; I shared what I thought was picture language to illustrate what I believed God wanted to do, only to witness a very exact outworking part way through the meeting. The surprise on their face was a picture in itself, though I suspect my word was not instantly connected with the event. The highlight of my weekend was really the quite separate befriending of two youngsters. Ok, one was 25, but that’s young to me. Just spending time sharing life with an American guy and having a real laugh with a teenage girl was an absolute privilege. The guy even invited me to a live gig at a local pub that I had to turn down. A lovely American woman cornered me about how big an issue Mad Cow's Disease was in the UK nowadays?!? An older lady I'd carefully helped up and down steps a few times, was quite delighted as I befriended and made jokes with the husband who’d simply dropped her off. Then she cautioned me with the statement that she believed one day I would remarry (I’m really not sold on that idea at all just yet), but in the meantime I'm to watch out for women as they’ll soon get their claws into me! Whoah! I suspect all of those I met this weekend have their own story of trauma or they wouldn't be in that type of meeting, but they were all so incredibly friendly. So good for me and not at all what I expected a week ago.

Back home tomorrow, Monday.

James 2:23 ‘He was even called the friend of God’ (NLT)

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