a recent frosty morning dog walk, a familiar voice called out across the park “Hey Andrew!” It was Paul, one of the local council workers who I’d come to know from several years of exploring the local area with Guinness (our Labrador).

“I’ve got a religious question for you mate.” They always are with Paul.

“How come the local Greek orthodox church is called Saint Spyridon? I’ve been in church all my life and I’ve never heard of this bloke. Have they got different saints to us? Are they Christian do you think?”

Paul in his own words is a lifelong erratic Catholic (said with his usual grin).

I started to mumble something about different histories and traditions. We danced around the topic for a minute or two. In reality Paul was just happy to ask the question.

Then he looked away and said quietly, “Mum’s not so good you know. Probably got a month or so left.”
“I’m sorry to hear that Paul.” His Mum is 92 and has been frail for some time. Our conversation usually ends up here.

“I was thinking I might get that Saint Spyro to pray for her as well. If we’re all part of the same family then he’d better get ready. She’ll be up there soon and probably want to reorganize the whole place!” Paul starts roaring with laughter, and wiping away a few tears. He shuffles back to his tractor and calls out “see ya later Andrew.”

I walked on, wondering if I could have offered anything else into the conversation. Maybe, maybe not. I suspect Paul wasn’t looking for an answer so much as someone to hear him. There’s a time for information and knowledge. And sometimes it’s just about being in the right spot to listen.

One of the most challenging acts of discipleship can be dropping our own agendas, lifting our eyes from our own distractions and just being in the moment. I’m reminded again (and again and again) to put my phone away, turn off the music, and lift my eyes to the world around me.

Lord give me eyes to see and ears to hear.