I was late for church this morning. Dashed in and sat down to hear the guest speaker suggest that we speak to our neighbour (if we felt able) about any ‘God’ moments we’d had in our lives…No, I don’t have any said Anne who was sitting next to me in the pew. Ooo…I do, I said, but it’s a bit long…I’ll tell you afterwards (expecting she’d forget…she didn’t). Well, I said, I was working for the local council, refurbishing an old shop unit beneath a large block of flats managed by the Housing department. It was getting close to the end of the job and although Ian (the Housing Manager) knew these premises were going to be occupied for non-shop purposes, he’d got wind of the fact that it was going to be a new mental health day centre for people in rehabilitation….which I was trying to keep low-key, shall we say. Damn! How am I going to handle this I thought? If Ian/the local residents don’t like it, I’m in serious trouble. I wasn’t particularly given to praying, especially at work…but Tony Adams was standing on top of my computer monitor (you know, the old cathode ray tube boxes). Tony Adams, England and Arsenal football captain until 2002, is a sort of hero of mine (‘cos I’m not really given to heroes either). He’s a great team player, superb defender and a sober alcoholic. What shall I do? I said. Pray he said. What shall I do? I said to God. Hmmm…God said…take the Housing Manager to the old day centre. So, appointment made…Ian and I turned up at the existing centre (which was to be sold and redeveloped). As we wandered through, the centre was quite full and all the clients occupied with various therapeutic activities…including smoking in the garden at the back. All well controlled, calm and organised. The manager at the centre assured us that the clients were all in rehabilitation and unlikely to be any problem to anyone and were in fact quite vulnerable/frightened of the outside world…which is why they needed help coming back into it. All sounds good. We wandered up to the top floor and I flung open a door to a room occupied by a large table with people doing art. Ian entered, and then stood still…gobsmacked. Diane! he said…what are you doing here? Diane was an ex-Council employee. Now, the council employed around 5000 people…and they don’t all know each other. Diane explained that she’d had a nervous breakdown after many years working as one of the Council’s receptionists – she’d been made redundant by the new automated directory system…and was only now feeling just confident enough to leave the house. I smiled to myself. That shot hit home…we left the premises, I shook hands with Ian and not another word was exchanged…he saw that this ‘madhouse’ underneath the flats was for people like…..us.
Whenever I play football (which I don’t)…in my head I’m Tony Adams – big, strong, reliably there to block all the strikers, thumping the ball away from my half of the pitch and running through the middle to score goals too. Believe me, I am nothing like Tony Adams…but…thanks for your assist Tony! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assist_(football)
Fear can be very strong… until we understand what we are afraid of. What a lovely illustration of how important it is to open our minds to things we are unfamiliar with and don’t understand.
Thanks for your lovely comment. I was in tears in the pew as I remembered this!