Last Friday was an interesting time in the pub.
One of the guys who I had been talking with over the last few days made it clear that he did not wish to talk and so, quite downbeat, I made my way to another table in the corner and thought ‘oh well … God must have some other plan for today!’
Within 15 minutes a different group of the regulars gathered in the same corner and we started to share stories of our childhood. Actually, these men in their 70’s and 80’s shared their stories while I listened. Stories of childhood scrumping, school tales accompanied by a fair amount of laughter. As we shared the group grew by one or two so that there were 5 of us by the end.
As they shared they realsied they knew lots of the same people, knew people who have lived in the same roads, knew the ‘rogues’ of the area and it soon became clear that their stories inter-linked in a number of ways that they had not realised before.
It was quite a special 90 minutes or so and I left feeling what a great privilege it had been to be part of that experience. It also reinforces in my mind the real power of stories – not just in how powerful they can be in illustration, but also in breaking down barriers. Today the stories served to do that – they served to bring this small group of men closer together. Something was shared between the group which is hard to describe but will be remembered for a while.
In including me as well, I think it shows the power that the story has to overcome generational divides. People want to tell their stories. If we are honest, we all like to talk about ourselves – what is often lacking is someone willing to listen to the story. Maybe part of loving service in this setting is as easy as being prepared to listen?