The Hopeful Clergyman

I wouldn’t call my street a quiet one, but it’s ordinary. There’s a paper shop, an off-license, hairdresser, family pub and a few trees. My neighbours live in average terraces and tend to know one another well. Britain is a place where people care a good deal what others think of them, and Wales is a place where people love to talk. It is easy to expose oneself to comment in a street like mine.

Someone was shouting. My eyes shifted nervously to the corners of the intersection as I approached my house, hoping to avoid the fracas. This was not the all too common drunken quarrel though; it was Tuesday morning after all. The voice exclaimed alone, and as I neared its source the tone revealed more conviction than anger.

I caught only one phrase as I passed: “He loves you.” Presumably the vocal volume and clarity of the rest were nullified by my surprise. I turned from a considerate distance to see a man nearing sixty. He stood neatly with a folder under one elbow, polished shoes, tweed jacket, smart silver hair and a clergyman’s collar.

One could not help but admire him. This man of dignity would seem more at home pouring tea in a country vicarage. Making his pulpit of this unhallowed street corner, he stirred some unknown reflex in me. It saddened me that men of God in our age can be reduced to street beggars in their efforts to offer. Sadness gave way to strength though; it seems there are always some who will not give up.

Sumangali Morhall July 2006