In other words different. There are no two nights alike; they're certainly bible studies the like of which your average church-goer would be unfamiliar with.
We've started looking at the life of David and last night Sean was talking about Saul, the first king, and how he'd lost the plot. After a little while, Jerry, who was slightly more inebriated than usual, decided to defend king Saul.
'No, no, Sean, you shouldn't be judging him. I don't come here to be judged. He made mistakes; we've all made mistakes; you've made mistakes. You've made at least four mistakes.'
Sean is agreeing and trying to explain that we're studying and learning from, not judging, when the 'four mistakes' comment puzzles him. Jerry continues, 'If you hadn't dipped your wick in four times, if you'd come out in time ...'
Afterwards I complimented Sean on his restraint. 'If someone had suggested that my children were mistakes I'd have slapped him!'
Apart from Jerry there were three young street lads who don't usually come on a Tuesday evening. They were only very mildly disruptive wandering across the room to get coffee, and one of them in particular, defended Sean, and dealt well with Jerry. I wondered if they might be derisory towards him, an old drunk, but they were good.
Two of them were wearing hats, and when Sean prayed at the start, they removed their hats, putting them back on after the Amen. We have lads in Linden, woolly hats stuck to their heads,who wouldn't think of removing them for a prayer or just because they're in church.
It doesn't bother me either way - God doesn't care what's on the outside so why should I? - but the act of the boys last night, in taking off their hats, struck me as significant, indicating respect, something almost subconscious. I suppose they must have been told to do it at some point in their lives, but their action gave me hope.
I don't know why such a small thing should stick with me; I'll have to ponder it some more.
I didn't mention Zac's last week. When I walked in I almost dropped my dustbin. Ros, who went back to Australia last autumn, was standing at the coffee bar. You know how thoughts rush through your mind in a few milliseconds? I thought: she didn't go, it was a dream; they've realised they belong here and have come back; it's not Ros. But then she turned to face me and we both beamed.
She's only been here for 2 weeks, for family reasons, and flies back 'home' to Australia this weekend. We met for a pub meal before Zac's yesterday and caught up on all each other's news. It was wonderful seeing her and hearing about their plans for a Zac's Place in Canberra, and receiving her encouragement and endorsement for ideas I want to put forward. (Watch out, Sean!)