Wandering over the tip yesterday I was reminded of a talk I gave in prison one Sunday morning.
When we first walked over the tip about 25 years ago it hadn't long closed and it wasn't the most attractive of places with rubbish still visible through the top soil. In fact the very first time when we returned home our dog then kept licking her paws as if they were stinging so we didn't go there again for a long time. Now nature has done a fantastic reclamation job and it's a lovely place to walk.
So, anyway, I'd noticed the variety of grasses that grew there and one day, just for fun, picked a sample of all the different ones in an area of about 1 square metre (which leads me, incidentally, onto another topic but I'll leave that for now), I used this great variety as the base for my prison talk on the uniqueness of every individual (and the love God has for each of us etc). I actually got up early on the Sunday and went out and collected a sample of grasses to take into prison with me.
When the service had ended and the men left to return to their cells the chaplain put his hand on his head and shook it despairingly. 'I can't believe you talked about grass in prison,' he said. I thought it had gone down okay but obviously he had other ideas.
'It reminds me of the young man you brought in once to speak,' he went on. 'He was talking about St Paul and how he held the cloaks of those who stoned Stephen. Do you remember?'
I shook my head penitently although I'd heard the story several times before.
'He asked the men if they'd like to get stoned.'
On the plus side, the chaplain hadn't been there the day I'd talked about pencils. Which would have been all right if I hadn't then spoken about having rubbers on the ends. I don't think I said anything about having lead in your pencil although peace of mind means I've had to delete some things from my memory.