Saturday, June 6, 2020

Reflecting on parents

One of the most interesting aspects of A Weird Life was trying to unpack the contrasts and commonalities in my parent's lives.  My father was born into an East End aspiring working class family, leaving school at 14 to work as a lowly clerk in the East Ham Council office.  But every spare moment he seemed to want to break out of his limited background.  He cycled to Europe on holidays and gobbled up languages beginning with French and German. He discovered classical music and art and much else in a kind of self-education programme.  Utterly unconventional, all this made him something of an outlier - his own man-  whose views would often surprise. And maybe make for some insecurity too.

In contrast my mother was born into a comfortable middle-class home with a successful business man father (a dominating character too).  Nothing would seem more conventional - her education followed smoothly through school where her academic skills flourished and she was among the first women to enter Bristol University to study psychology and economics.  Attractive with considerable confidence, she was well prepared for a successful life ahead.

It still strikes me as highly unlikely that these two people ever connected.  He an East Ender, seven years older and she from such a comfortable background.  But what they had in common was that they both had come to faith in lively Baptist churches. My father was immensely influenced by West Ham Central Mission which was internationally known for its ministry throughout the East End of London. Here his faith was stretched which led to his baptism and eventually to his call to Baptist ministry.  My mother moved home a couple of times and it was in Tyndale Baptist Church, Bristol, also a significant community, that she too made Christian faith commitment in baptism.  They were both open to God doing fresh things in their lives and that included finding a life partner. 

I think they were both taking risks but I am convinced that nurture in their local churches had paved the way for everything that was important in their future lives together.   I can't help giving thanks for lively local churches and the life preparation they can give us - including preparing unlikely couples for each other!

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