If you've been reading my blog for a time, you'll know that special things happen at Zac's Place but sometimes, just occasionally, other things happen too.
A week ago there'd been some discussion about Judas, and the various ideas expressed helped me to write a Judas monologue that I read at the beginning of last night's meeting. As I was about to start, Terry, who was very drunk and standing just outside the open door, began talking. Sean suggested he come in, sit down and listen, which he did. And he sat quiet as a chapel-goer throughout my reading. At the end he shook me by the hand and said, 'Respect.' (He also said other things that I couldn't decipher.) But then what for me had been a pleasing moment threatened to turn into something much less pleasant.
Now Terry has usually had a drink when he comes and is normally disruptive but amiable. Last night he was very disruptive, not allowing Sean to speak, and aggressive in his language. His behaviour upset several people, some of whom were verging on aggression themselves. The atmosphere was very heavy when Sean stood up, walked over, took Terry by the arm and led him outside for a chat. When Sean came back in, Bas went out to continue chatting to Terry, threatening as he went to 'kick your backside.' (I don't think he did. No, I know he didn't. )
After that the study continued and there were some good exchanges and interesting thoughts put forward, and all was well.
The ethos of Zac's is that everyone is welcome no matter what state they're in, and everyone is treated with the same respect. But along with that goes the unspoken obligation to treat others with the same respect. And that means listening to them, allowing them to speak, and allowing them to listen. It's a very difficult balance to maintain. Last night it got wobbly.
No doubt next week Terry will be back to his usual amiable drunken state and will tell us we're all sinners and that he's been there, done that and got the t-shirt. And Jesus will love us all.
Sean added: By the end of the night Terry and one of those getting rather narked ended up sorting out some work together and then I took them both home in the same vehicle: one to his bedsit, one to his bush. Marvellous!!