I have met so many people this week in odd situations and been really blessed by many conversations. I was sat on the train reading John C. Holder’s Preaching Old Testament: Proclamation and Narrative in the Hebrew Bible and was beginning to sink into the chair with the satisfaction of having a four-seat table to myself (greed).
In the last few seconds before departure, an elderly couple, two grandchildren and a daughter in law got on. The man ended up sitting opposite me and began to chat. I wanted to read, but joined in the conversation and listened as he spoke about his son’s job and how delighted they were to see the American grandchild. Just general chit-chat on a train. We covered politics, sport and family, the usual topics. It was all very nice and normal.
But then there was a change, a turning point. He noticed my bookmark. “ISA?” he asked, “what’s that about?” It was an Open Doors leaflet that briefly said ISA was Jesus in Arabic. Then he wanted to know what I was reading and why. I explained I was doing an applied theology degree. We talked then about ecumenical ideals. He had completed his theology degree 13 years previously and was very involved with parish affairs.
During the course of the conversation, he spoke about many different ways in which his church was trying to engage with children and youth. We shared experiences and prayed together. No longer an average train journey conversation. He got off. No one got on, but I did not return to my reading, I pondered on the interaction. I prayed some more. At the next station, an American tourist got on and I helped her find suitable accommodation in Cork. I was intrigued at how someone could travel on their own with no clear idea of seeking accommodation and so we engaged in conversation once more.
Then I met Kirk, a northern guy with a Scottish name. He thought I wouldn’t know Kirk was a church and a long conversation about family and sharing family names took place. Wouldn’t I be the lucky one to have Kirk as a middle name instead of the name given to me? I am reminded of the laughter from the passport office as they readily agreed to take it off my passport. And I think of Charlotte, only last year did I discover she had been lumbered with the same ridiculous name. I wonder will the name ever sit comfortably with me.
But I know my name, the important name… I am God’s child, his daughter, steadfast & true and I am loved. This week has seen more conversations as I shared little tidbits received from my boss. Loud words of Jesus… Shouting love to all who heard back then and continues to be heard today through our lives.