So, anyway, it's been a funny old week.
It's certainly been a busy week or 10 days, beginning with our trip to Taunton last weekend for the family party. At the buffet lunch on Sunday a film was running on the television. It was a collection of bits and pieces, largely featuring the wedding of the couple celebrating their 50th anniversary. It had been taken by an amateur with a cine camera - rare in those days! - and had been spliced together and put on dvd by super-whizzo technology.
As well as the wedding shots there were clips from holidays, including some of me as a 10-year-old. At one point the camera focused on my mum. Just on her face and it stayed there for maybe 20 seconds. I hadn't been expecting it and to suddenly see her face animated and smiling and alive was a shock. Strangely, it was probably the clearest image in the whole film.
To come face to face with the woman I knew as my mother but didn't really know was just the start.
I'd expected a cousin of mine, whose mother had attended the wedding originally (and that was one of the ways they picked their guests for this weekend: if they'd been at the wedding they, or their descendants, were invited) to be there and as she wasn't I asked the host if she'd been invited. 'No, I haven't seen her for ages.' I mulled this over and came to the conclusion that I'd been invited, not just because of my mother but because I was actually wanted there. That's sounds pathetic and silly but I've spent a lifetime believing I'm the mistake, the one who's tagged on, the one who gets invited because of obligation. For someone to invite me because they might actually like me ...
On Tuesday at Zac's the bible study was led by Reverend Doctor John Smith, founder of God's Squad (Christian motor cyclists), and over from Australia for the 15th anniversary celebrations of the UK chapter.
His presence had been announced and bikers and others turned up from all over the country to hear him. So it wasn't your average Tuesday night (as if there is such a thing). But he did carry on with study of the book of Acts in a talk that touched many people. His message was really quite simple: God is near us; he loves us; and we're on a journey.
Afterwards Blossum introduced me and John Smith moved his hands as if to shake mine, but as I went to respond he drew me to him in a bear hug, and held me safely for a long moment. Some things feel right.
The next two days I attended the arts seminar that he was leading at Zac's with musicians and visual artists. The Wednesday night I came home thoroughly depressed: I was with a group of people who were all more articulate, more intelligent, more artistic, more spiritual - more everything - than I. I felt like a sore thumb. I don't cope well with a group of people I don't know. I went to bed and tossed and turned until morning came.
Oddly enough, and I'm not sure how, my focus had changed by the morning. I resolved to go along and take some of my writing to read. I shared 2 pieces about Zac's, one prose and one a blog post. They went down okay and John's keynote talk, which was the main point of the seminar, was encouraging. Basically, go and use your talents to help others. I think - I hope - I already do this with prison, so it was an affirmation of that work.
So, all in all, it's been a funny old week, and I suspect ripples generated by it will be around for a while. I need time to think so it's a good job we're going on holiday on Wednesday. (Yes, again.) We're off to Ibiza to party. No, not really. We are going to Ibiza but to the quieter side where Younger Son and Girlfriend are based at the dive school.
So now I suppose I should start packing ...