Sometimes I think my life is weird and it seems to go from the sublime to the ridiculous. So I thought I’d write about the last few days and the people I have met. Now we all have to make sense of the world as best we can; and I choose to do it by (in my best moments) treating everyone as a unique person. It is so easy to slip into stereotyping people- the pop star, the MP, the old lady etc. etc. etc. I try to avoid this, and it makes for interesting times. Here are some people where seeing beyond the stereotypes enriches everyone.
On Friday night I took part in a debate with Robin Walker MP. OK, MP’s are not flavour of the month. Seen as power hungry, agenda driven, expense laden, out of touch. But to hear Robin speak you couldn’t help but be impressed. Here is someone who is passionate about the NHS, wants to do his best, and lives by his late father’s mantra: “Efficiency with compassion.” Beyond the stereotype is someone who is giving himself to public service in a sacrificial way spending huge hours trying to make the community a better place.
On Saturdy morning, I was called into Worcester Royal. Ivy (not her real name) had died and, whilst the family had gone home, the said they would be comforted by some prayers for her. As I entered the room, I saw this frail lady who had passed onto another journey. So easy to see just this fraction of her life. But if we look beyond the stereotype, we see someone who has lived to a good age, has contributed to the common good, has produced children who are still making an impact on the world. Laughed and loved; faced challenges and trials some of which she overcame; and will be missed. The world is diminished because Ivy is no longer with us.
On Saturday evening I was called into Worcester Royal again. This time to Stan (not his real name) who was in his 80’s. He was facing some challenges. So easy to see the poorly old man in hospital. Yet Stan, not a religious man, wanted God’s help. “God came to my aid several times when I was in the War and I want him to help me again.” Here is a man who served his country, has lived a good life, has countless experiences which, if we could only listen, would give us fresh insight. We prayed together and on seeing him a day later he said what a difference that had made. But it had made a difference to me too as we laughed together and he shared some of the stories of his life.
On Sunday I went down to Brighton with my daughter Suzy who had done a first class job of manipulating Dad to get her way. She wanted to go to a charity day. The day was in aid of a young man who had died and had donated his organs(http://www.connors5.com/home). This selfless action has had an impact on others and had helped 6 people who would not be around today. And at this event, in a football stadium in Peacehaven, some of his friends had come together to raise money and remember Connor. One such friend was Frankie Cocozza. My impression of him previously (and this is where I failed in my aim of always trying to see the person) was of a jumped up little no talent oik (sorry Frankie) who got booted off the X-Factor. But seeing him on Sunday, with no airs and graces, happily having his photo taken with his fans and signing my duagters’ T shirts I changed my mind. He was a man who was helping support something worthwhile; supporting a community; and making a difference.
So don’t believe all that you read. See the person. Work hard to listen. And the most extraordinary things come come of that. By all means, keep all your stereotypes if you like, even stereotypes of the Chaplain, but your life won’t be as rich and you’ll miss out on so much.