Saturday, 8 December 2007

Through all the Advents of our life

Through all the Advents of our life, we shall wait and look forward with longing for that day of the Lord, when God says, "I am making everything new!"

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Yesterday I had an unexpected wonderful experience, which seemed to chime with the Bonhoeffer quotation.

At work I normally avoid what I call the ‘figurehead’ role – you know those events that you get invited to where you have to flash the smile, press the flesh and make small talk to strangers. Not exactly a comfortable environment for me.

Anyway, we are involved in a health and social care academy. I was involved in the original idea and planning, but true to form ducked out when real people got involved. The academy is really a short course to provide people who are out of the mainstream employment market with some basic skills that will help them apply for jobs in health and social care. Often the participants will be people who have had health problems (including mental health), women returning to the labour market after child care responsibilities but with no relevant skills.

Because someone else was on holiday, I was asked to represent the department at the graduation for the current group. Then I was asked if I would say a few words, and oh, would I present the certificates as well. I agreed, but I wasn’t looking forward to it. I don’t have any problem with the public speaking side (although ‘a few words’ turned out to be a 10 minute slot!); but small talk …

Before the ceremony I was chatting (mainly listening) to some of the college staff who commented on the increase in confidence in the participants over the six weeks of the course. After the ceremony – as I started to relax a bit- talking to the candidates it was clear that this was a really big deal for them. They were enthusiastic, but clearly with underlying concerns and apprehensions. They wanted to know about job opportunities, and could they volunteer, and who should they contact etc etc.

After the photo session, one of the women said “This has been a great day!” As she said this I realised that I had been looking at this event from the wrong perspective – to my shame. It was a bit of an inconvenience to me; for the course participants it was ‘making everything new’.

Well, as I drove home I realised that it was a new start for me to – time to press the flesh a bit more and appreciate that what can seem like a wee thing to me can be a major event for someone else. What was David Adam saying about Mirror Images?

This was a great day!

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