Chaplain’s Blog Stardate 22/01/2023
Give me a pulpit or a chance to preach and I am in my element – it does not matter whether it is to two or two hundred. When preaching one has a certain authority, a certain distance and generally the people listening want to hear what you have to say about faith matters but outside church I find it very hard to strike up conversations about faith.
I am hopeless at evangelising folks I meet in the street, offering to pray for them and the sort of joyous thing that others seem to do with ease. My workplace was always a school and there was little faith conversation away from assemblies.
The on the spot evangelism or faith conversation is right out of my comfort zone, however…..
Stopping to chat or to listen to people’s stories and praying my own private prayers for them is something I do often. I thought the following two examples worthy of writing about and hope that it might inspire some of you to put pen to paper about chance encounters that have inspired you to prayer.
Thought for the Day – Epiphany IV – This link is for Peter Coster’s Thought for the day this week. He attended a Leadership Safeguarding Course and makes some very interesting points.
Quiet Day at Epiphany House on February 10th – details Storytelling and Building Everyday Faith led by Jim Seth – Epiphany House
Chance encounters – PC Binnie
Most days I spend an hour or two walking with Barney a.k.a. Mr Dog the energetic collie. He attracts quite a lot of attention, especially when he sits patiently waiting for people to pass, looking up with a sort of RSPCA expression that pleads for interaction.
Brief conversations with other dog-walkers are fairly frequent but the occasional longer conversations are things to be treasured.
Mr Binnie is a long-retired policeman who must be well into his 80s, who I often see but yesterday I met him twice and listened to his stories both times. The first, as I was about to ascend the long sloping bridle path to the Wheal Euny mine, was about the day he had been instructed to investigate a body that had been found in the brambles at the side of the path. It was a sad story about an old farmer who had been in Barncoose Hospital (once the Redruth Workhouse) suffering with dementia. Somehow, he had evaded the security system and wandered out and made his way the mile or so to where he was found some ten hot July days later. Mr Binnie’s description of the task faced by the police that day was graphic but I won’t go into maggoty details here!
The second time we met outside the infant school as we were a few hundred yards from our homes. I greeted him with, “no bodies to be seen!” Mr Binnie chuckled and asked, “did I ever tell you about the time I was shot?”
Well…. You have to give time to a conversation opener like that and luckily Barney, at the end of his second walk of the day sat patiently while I listened as the story of the chap involved in a domestic incident, high on drugs and alcohol, had fired a cross bow at the police who had been summoned to deal with it. The bolt lodged in PC Binnie’s thigh, perilously close to his femoral artery- he had been lucky not to lose his life! It was also fortunate that the two officers had been called from duties on a roadblock and he was wearing as many layers of clothing as he could fit under his jacket. When the bolt had been shot, PC Binnie’s colleague charged across the room and rugby tackled the follow to the floor where they disarmed him and were able to take him to the police station, and PC Binnie to the hospital.
He went on to tell me about the cot death he was called to of a two-year-old child with connections to the cross-bow family and then of the other sudden deaths of children that had been his misfortune to encounter. I glibly remarked that I was glad I had been a teacher dealing with live children. This marked a good place to wander onwards but I was left with a picture of just how tough the job is for our emergency services and the police in particular. They will be much in my prayers this week.
Of Sick Animals and our Responsibilities....
By contrast I had a long conversation or three with a Lady who explained at length about how sad she was that her little dog had dies a year ago and why she thought she would never have another dog because the grief of losing them was too much to bear. She felt the horrible guilt of dog owners who have to have their dog’s life ended by the vet. There is always that question about whether something else could have been done, would they have recovered and so on. Monty Don of Gardener’s World said in one of his books that we as dog (and other pets) owners are not just responsible for the dog’s life but also for its death. We have a responsibility to make sure the quality of life is good and that prolonging the life of a very sick animal might be more about us than it is about the animal for whom prolonged suffering is a cruelty.
When she saw Barney and me in the park a month or so later she made a bee-line to tell me she was looking out for another dog and how much our previous conversation had helped.
There had been prayers too.