Who has pottered by this way, then?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

In conversation with a weekday church visitor.

"So, are you the vicar, then?"

"No, I'm the churchwarden."

"Nice church. Do you have to be here while it's open to the public?"

"No, we just leave it open during the day so people can visit. I just happened to be here checking on the boiler."

"Seriously? You just leave it open?"

"Yes. It'd be a pity to have it only open on Sundays."

"Definitely. That's really good. Lovely building. How old is it?"

"Well, bits are 14th century, a lot is 17th century and there are bits added from pretty much every century inbetween. And there's a cross from Saxon times in the graveyard too."

"Right. Must cost a lot to keep it going."

"Yes, heating costs an enormous amount. And if there's anything wrong with the building itself, you have to have an architect in and specialist craftsmen to even make the windows watertight."

  *visitor pops 50 pence in the collection box*

"Is the vicar in?"

"He doesn't actually live in the church."

"Where is he then?"

"I really don't know: he could be at a hospital visiting one of the very sick old folk from one of the four parishes he covers, or at a meeting which, given our location, might well be up to an hour's drive away, or he could be at the local school doing assembly, or something else there as he's a school governor, or he may be discussing a funeral with the relatives of someone who's recently passed away, or taking a confirmation class at the local secondary school - the list is pretty long."


"Do you want me to put you in touch with the vicar?"

"Oh no, I just thought it'd be nice to see him here. You know, as I was taking photographs."

"I'm sure he'd love to be thought of as photogenic."

"Well, where I'm from in Leeds we just don't see vicars out and about. Not like here in the countryside."

"What makes you think we see them out and about any more than you you do in the city?"

"Well, no reason I suppose. I just assumed it'd be like the vicar of Dibley out here. Nice and relaxing out in the countryside, full of posh retired people and rich folk. Must be like that really?"

 The churchwarden sighed deeply, electing not to reply. Smiling, he said, "I'm afraid I have to be going. Just before you arrived I found out the boiler's packed up and I need to go and sort that out so our happy band of worshippers won't be too cold this Sunday. Our Diocese thinks we're as rich as you do, so I'm not sure we can actually afford to fix it and keep up with what we're supposed to send them every month. Shame really, as most of us here love the idea of supporting inner city ministry too. This beautiful old building just eats all our money, though."

"I'm glad it's here though. And that it's open."

"Me too. It's a witness to all those centuries of worship here. And to God being in the midst of this little, out of the way place for all those years too. Though I wonder if the mere presence of these ancient stones is enough. Surely I didn't become a Christian to be a mere curator of ancient monuments? But God will use us where we are, as we are - or as He will transform us, if we let Him, I'm sure."

"I guess."

"God bless."

"You too."

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