Sunday, December 30, 2012
doorway to dreamland
He nearly had a leg amputated last month. But it didn't happen, and today I kept my promise. I walked him through a door that didn't exist. Didn't exist.
It does now.
After the 2005 interior renovations in the church, I was grateful that we had finished and I had no more building projects. The next thing we had to do was employ a children's worker - not that we had any children; that's why we had to employ a children's worker. And I knew who I wanted, but they lived in the wrong part of Wales. No problem - her husband was duly put through the ordination machine & sorted for training at Llandaff, and Naomi needed a job.
All I needed was money, an agreeable PCC, and enough rope to hang myself.
And just after Naomi began working with us, I walked around the back of church one day, between the church and the hall (which at the time we never used - the main room was rented out full time to Social Services; and the top floor had been condemned and was unusable) at the point where the two buildings were closest together, suddenly I was standing in a foyer that joined the two together. I was actually standing in this thing. And I realised what I was going to do next...
Oh my poor church wardens.
It was an arduous journey. We wondered why we would join the two together: the benefit for the elderly and for children who used the church was obvious, in that it would create access to loos, but was that enough reason?
So we thought bigger.
What about renovating the hall. What about using the hall. Ourselves. Losing the rent from social services. Doing more for kids. Starting a work with older people. Needing more room.
Should we build new rooms into the vicarage garden? Should we build onto the west end of the church? Of course - we should bring the top floor into use, and make meeting rooms up there for people of different ages, create a parish office, put a lift in so the older members and people with kids in buggies could use it... And so the plans grew.
And the price grew too.
But whilst all that was happening, we didn't stop. Naomi left, and Kirsty took over - using the Hall now for the children's work & growing toddler groups and youth work. Kirsty was followed by Trish. And we started St Caths Plus for older people - outreach for the more mature, based on the model of our children's work, based on our concern that older people deserve better facilities and good places to meet and do interesting things together in our community. First Esther, then Anne headed it up.
There were weeks when we had 200 people coming to events put on by the community projects.
The plans grew. And the price. And the fundraising - that was part of my job, and Esther worked hard there too. There were successes, and failures. The timeline was not what I had hoped. In the end, I felt a tiny bit like King David looking at plans to build a temple in Jerusalem: I knew it was going to happen; I knew I'd done everything I could; it just wasn't going to be done in my time. The final major piece of fundraising news came through just after I left in summer 2011. Yet it came to pass...
Peter, the new vicar, has work to do on his garden, which is a right mess. Good job he's a botanist...
Of course, as well as seeing all that is, and that is still to do, I couldn't help but see all who were not there. David the architect, a dear friend to me and to the church for many years, was unable to come, but his work will bless many. There were members of the Hayward family present to recall Ken, and Hilda, who both inspired me along the way. John Murphy would have loved to see this. It would have thrilled his soul. I guess it does as he looks down at us. Seeing Sam, my heart was filled with Ian. Seeing Cherry, I could picture Heather. I was motivated by so many people whose names I am not mentioning and who have not seen this day; but their gift blesses people who come after. And that is how it should be. We are all forgotten eventually, and yet the blessing carries on.
There has been a lot of very hard work done by a lot of dedicated people since I left!
Art doesn't need explanation. But here is my response - and you should have your own. I see in the swoop of the colours, arms of outstretched praise. Behind - the night; ahead - the day; above - the cross, the highest point of all worship. Flowing from the worship of the church into the day ahead, a seed: a word, a deed, a sharing of the love received in worship. A making real beyond of the realities sung within this place. And with it - an invitation to young and old, broken and joyful, men and women, those who have come long and those who have never heard before:
Here might I stay and sing
This is my friend