Yesterday evening I had a phonecall.
Nothing remotely unusual about that...even when I've not just sat down with a large drink...but this wasn't an absolutely standard request.
B. was phoning on behalf of his grandma, who had recently moved into the sheltered flats opposite valley church.
Today was the first anniversary of her husband's death, and she wanted to spend some time with her grandson in a quiet place, praying and remembering.
Would the church be open when he was free to take her, after work?
Of course, I said it would be no trouble at all to delay locking-up time, explained where the votive candles were, and we parted amicably.
Except that, by one of those weird quirks of fate, though I warned everyone who might normally be expected to lock up in a fit of enthusiasm, I'd forgotten that there was a plan afoot to begin to take down the Christmas stars this evening..so the message didn't go nearly far enough.
Thus, just as I got in from the evening dog-walk, the phone rang: B & his grandma were down at church, but the door was locked.
When I met them, they were both ridiculously, unnecessarily, grateful...telling me that I was much too kind, that they appreciated it so much, that they just needed somewhere special to remember.
And no matter how much I tried to assure them that they were simply using the church for its prime purpose - as a place for people to get close to God - they seemed to feel that there was something remarkable about my willingness to open the door on a stormy January evening.
But the point is, the building was THERE...and they knew who to contact to ensure access.
A long time ago, I wrote of another church, that the community who live and work around it recognised, in their ancient building with its open doors, a reminder of the God who always welcomes us, and another place that they could call home.And I don't know how to begin to assess the value of that.