Dear Readers (who may or may not exist),
I have a confession.
I am a devout atheist, I have no religious leanings whatsoever, I sometimes wish I did, but I don’t.
I have no disregard for those who do, and I often quite respect them.
I would certainly not hold any ill wish, in fact I quite like church, it has a hush to it, a feeling of joy that comes from the contemplation and singing that I’ve never felt anywhere else.
And on Sunday, I am going to church.
I haven’t been to church on a Sunday since I went to hear the Banns being read for my ill-fated wedding over 12 years ago. Oh, tell a lie, I went to mass twice for my nieces’ christenings.
I’m not going to intrude on the service, but I am going to the coffee afterwards. I’m going to meet the vicar to discuss a subject that’s been on my mind for quite some time now.
The estate where I live is quite nice, it’s deprived, like most of the North East of England but friendly and welcoming. It’s located between the main local town and a village, almost equidistant between the two. It consists of 1950s council houses, and there is a huge house building initiative in the area too now. We’re looking at around 400 households moving into the area.
Google informs me that it’s twenty minutes in either direction to the ‘local’ community centres on foot.
Serving the community are (wait for it) two local convenience stores. Anything else, and you have to travel into the town or up to the village. Which both have a variety of resources available, but realistically you’re looking at a car or a bus journey (£3:20 return) to access anything vaguely interesting.
I was bemoaning this fact (in the shower, as you do) when I realised that the answer was right in front of me (not literally of course, what was literally in front of me was a load of white tiles).
The local church!
Now I normally visit this church, at a rate of around three times over four years, because it’s my local Polling Station, but that’s it. Last time I was there I ‘accidentally’ took a wrong turn and I was surprised at how much room it has inside, and yet…. It never seems to be used.
At around a similar time, I’ve been having conversations on the school run. Lots of conversations.
Now when I was on maternity, there was LOADS to do, the SureStart programme was heavily financed and, if you were so inclined, you could do two different activities a day with your bundle of joy.
BUT I needed a car to do this. Very rarely were activities within walking distance of my house, and I was lucky enough to have a car at my disposal.
So, when my friend confided that she was feeling lonely, I brightly suggested the groups I used to go to, and decided to google them while we were walking. I was totally shocked at how much things have been stripped back. There was very little to choose from and what there was wasn’t anywhere local.
So, on Sunday I’m going to see a vicar about a church….
Wish me luck!