My friend Ben and I sat on the steps and discussed the trains. There was another ten minutes before we needed to move and there were few people around.
Trains have always been a comfortable topic of conversation, there is something reassuring about railways, a design, a purpose, a mind behind it all. There are many clergy who will take holidays just to visit particular railways. I have never felt I would go to such extremes, but I think I can understand the fascination, particularly with the steam railways, the artistry and the craftsmanship have few modern parallels.
We talked about the steam trains we remembered, each of them with their own character, and I tried to remember their colours. “What colour was James, Ben?”
“Red”, he said.
It was 1025 and we got up from our seat. Ben, who is three, took his Thomas the Tank Engine cards back to the pew where his mum and dad were sitting and I went off to finish getting ready for the morning service. Any of the hundred or so people who had come in the door would have found it odd that the Rector was sitting on the chancel steps talking to a small boy.
It was a magical moment, for just a couple of minutes the world was suspended.
Ben taught me a lesson. He has a completely unselfconscious devotion to the things that matter to him. If I could muster one fraction of such unselfconsciousness in my ministry, it would be a whole lot better.