The announcer jolts us awake with Radio 4 tones.
May I have your attention please? Customers are requested not to feed the pigeons on the station. They are a nuisance and possible health hazard. Please do not feed the pigeons!
Good grief! I look down at a pigeon, whose head bobs back at me, bright eyed and hopeful. A health hazard? More evidence that the world has gone mad. An image flashes across my mind of the birds at Scargill. Ridiculous tears prick my eyelids. I snap them shut. I refuse to be a menopausal woman, on a platform, snivelling. I slow and breathe, and remember.
Suddenly Fiona and Shirley both shrieked, "There it is!"
I jumped. As they'd been quiet for some time, I'd assumed they'd been asleep (well, perhaps not Fiona - she was driving.) I looked over to the far side of the valley. I saw sun-dappled slopes, trees and a jumble of buildings tossed across the foot of the hill, like duplo tipped on velvet. The place drowsed, tranquil in the evening sun.
We drove around the valley, up the drive and parked under trees, a parade so straight and silent, it was as if they were guarding secrets.
Which it turns out they were. Firstly, as we wheelie-cased towards the entrance, I could see the place was far from sleepy. People bustled about, cheerful with cases or smiles or both.
"Hello!" they called. This was a surprise in itself. Londoners do not say hello to strangers. Even Christian ones.
Finally there's the chapel, a prism of glass, which captures a thousand shards of green and gold; an altar draped in water; a cross; lilies. The communion service, led by Adrian and Bridget Plass with their unique brand of humour and honesty, was like bathing in buttermilk. Not that I've ever done it, but I would do in a flash (best not picture this.) And there's a certain energy worshipping with those whose world view is as quirky and hopeful as your own - a lying down, a relief. And God sent this gift wrapped in writers, some old, some young, some bold, some bashful. But it doesn't matter here. We just open our mouths and sing, caught up in the joy of this place perched on the edge of paradise, and of the father who is present and knows what we need.
The train approaching Platform 1 is the 8.50 to London Waterloo. Please stand well back on the platform. Mind the gap between the train and the platform edge. Mind the gap!
I snap my eyes open. The platform stirs. The pigeons have gone, perhaps warned off by the scary announcer. The train snakes into view and I pick up my bag and book, and prepare for the journey.
The day approaching Deborah Jenkins is a Tuesday. Please stand well back so you can observe and enjoy it. Try not to mind the gap between this place and the one they call Scargill. I am still here. And I know what you need.
I will try not to mind Lord.
Please click on the link to see the book.