Thursday, 22 October 2009

A Matter Of Faith

As a consequence of going Israeli dancing last weekend Polly and I found ourselves addressing the congregation of Holy Trinity, Wallington, this Sunday. We had been chatting to Stephen, the vicar, between expositions on dance in Leviticus, and had inadvertently reminded him of our existence. He asked us if we would be prepared to be interviewed during the service about our faith. Polly said yes, totally ignoring the little strangling noises issuing from me and the frantic shaking of my head that was going on behind the vicar's back. With malicious glee she committed us. Only later did she realise that she too would have to speak.

Sunday arrived and we arrived at the church as a family only a few minutes late. Before I had even had time to warm myself next to one of the iron radiators we were being invited to the front to address the congregation.

I have been in this situation many times in the past but not for a few years. A hundred or more faces watched me expectantly. I flicked the controller on my wheelchair and levitated into the air. That was better, I could now see and be seen. It also killed a few seconds. Polly took the microphone and spoke with her usual wit and assurance about her faith and how it enabled her to cope with some of the extremely harrowing situations she faces with her work as a clown doctor. All well and good but it was upping the bar and I was acutely aware that anything I said was going to sound trite or glib or worse, hypocritical.

All to soon Polly finished her bit and Stephen turned his vicarly attention to me. After giving the congregation a brief run down on my writing and theatre background and doing a great job plugging this blog he asked me what my faith meant to me. Good question. It was one of those situations when you open your mouth to talk and haven't got a clue what's going to come out.

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time you will be aware that if Jesus wants me for a sunbeam then he has grossly misjudged the weather. I admitted that I had 'issues' with God, which seemed to strike a chord with a significant number of those listening judging from the wry chuckle that followed. I went on to talk a little about the many good things in my life and left it to them to decide whether I attributed those to my faith or not. I did say that my faith has formed the backdrop to my life for the last 35 years or so, which however I feel about that sometimes, is absolutely true.

As ever when I raise matters of faith on this blog I am acutely aware that I am disappointing or disillusioning many of my readers, especially my many Christian friends who would, no doubt, prefer something more unequivocal from me. Equally I know for a fact that a huge number of my readers are atheist and hold no truck whatsoever with anything pertaining to faith. They say you can't please all of the people all of the time, but it would be nice to please a few people some of the time. So, for the tiny number of readers who lack certainty in matters of personal faith, this post is for you. As you dangle over the precipice of uncertainty you can at least be comforted by the knowledge that somewhere nearby I am hanging on grimly with you. Not a great deal of comfort, I realise, but at least we're not alone.

Until next time.