10,000 voices - Here I am, send me...
Sitting in a cafe a few days ago with my daughter, Naomi we found ourselves sitting next to a man who was clearly on his own and very likely my sort of age. After a bit of banter about the fact that he supported the Arsenal, I asked him how his life was. His response was to ask me how long I had got!
He then went on to tell me that basically his life had always been unhappy. His father died when he was young and his elder brother joined the Merchant Navy as soon as he was able. When he came home on leave, his brother drank heavily and would regularly physically attack him and their mother. At the age of 16 he ran away from home and as far as I could tell had never seen either his mother or his brother ever again.
Our conversation took a turn when he asked me, "Are you religious or something?" I told him that I wasn't religious, but I was a Christian believer. "What's the difference?" He asked. I told him that religion was about ticking boxes and trying hard, but that Christianity was about a God of grace who loves us even when we don't deserve it and who sent His Son into the world to live amongst us, to die upon a Cross in order that we might be reconciled to God and reconciled to one another. "Never really thought about that before" he responded.
The very same day I was chatting to my cab driver. We talked about this and that and he then told me that he lived abroad. I asked him where he lived. I expected him to say France or Spain. "Estonia" he told me, "the women out there are amazing." Fearing what he might go on to tell me, I was vaguely relieved when he told me about his girlfriend.
After one or two comments that I confess made me feel slightly uncomfortable, he told me that his girlfriend was much younger than he was. I asked him if he saw a future in the relationship. "No mate," he told me, "I'll enjoy it while I can." I asked him if he thought that was what relationships were meant to be like? "Dunno mate" he replied, "but I know I can't keep mine going."