Children Play in Peace while London Burns.

School children on the Village Green

I took this photo this morning, 14th June.  Children from our little village school here in Thakeham playing softball or rounders or something, running freely, chasing a ball, and cheering when runs are scored.  Beautiful. I love the innocence, the protection, the safe enclosed world of the village green and the kind teachers.

And the five-bar gate to the field is shut. 

Across the UK there is turmoil.  A government in crisis.  European leaders laughing at our politics.  And today a London tower-block on fire with people being burnt to death.  

And me with an overactive sense of responsibility. Am I to blame in some way?

For the last week I’ve experienced a sense of deep disappointment, a sense of not wanting to live here in the UK, or be identified with this people with their anger, taking their revenge, laughing at others’ discomfort, promising things they know they can never deliver, plotting to destabilise our government and nation … for what?  Today the outpouring of care and love towards complete strangers in need.  We saw it in the recent terrorist attacks too.

Amid, and maybe beyond, the deep sense of grief, I’ve discovered a place of peace and I want to share it with you. It comes with a new word:

ReMeaning.

I’ve stepped back, switched off the news, and taken time to meditate and pray and look for an alternative, a more useful meaning, a different perspective.  And found peace.  How far would I have to soar above the earth to no longer be caught up in the mêlée?  Two miles?  100 miles?  1000?  The earth looks very different from 10,000 miles out in space (above).

(Mêlée is an appropriate word describing “a large noisy uncontrolled crowd, in which people are moving in different directions and sometimes fighting with each other.”)

And from how far back or forward in time – looking back from three weeks? Three months? Three, or three hundred years?

None of us know the future.  We can declare boldly what ‘IS GOING TO HAPPEN’ but it is rarely, if ever, as described.  Speculation isn’t truth, and to imply we know what is going to happen in the future is to deceive ourselves and others.  There’s a lot of it about.

Time and distance are two powerful dimensions that enable us to ‘remean’ what we see around us.

Not guilty.

I’m NOT accountable for what others do with my vote, either in last year’s Referendum or this year’s general Election.  I AM accountable for where I put my ‘X’ on the ballot paper.   I’m not accountable for the mistakes, the lies, the fear, the selfishness of others.  My own are more than sufficient to inspire guilt and regret.  But guilt isn’t the final outcome for me (and it is never just one person’s fault.) All that is gone. I’m forgiven.

Forgiven.

Yes, I’m a ‘believer’.  I worship God, the Ultimate Intelligence, the Creator  – and for most of my life I’ve been committed to the spiritual journey of discovering what he is like.  (For my version of that you can go HERE.)  Something I’ve been excited to discover is his readiness to forgive.  Completely.  For ever.  I’m a completely-and-forever-forgiven human being, thank God.  Living in that global absolution is, quite frankly, like being born again: I’m clean, innocent, treasured, priceless, and I have the peace and pleasure of a new fresh piece of paper to write my  life on each day.

Valued and valuable beyond measure.  Like those little children in the picture above. And the people responsible for that towerblock fire.  And the millions living on that crescent Earth.

All of us.

To Believe or not to Believe.  That is the Question.  TEN Reasons Why I Believe in God

Charlotte Gyllenhammar’s ‘Double Bind’ in Gothenbourg’s art gallery  illustrates the tension some people face about believing in God. A Double Bind in a relationship is where a person is caught in a trap of contradictory messages.  

In the absence of any ‘proof’ either way, I have decided to simply believe. Here are my …

Ten Reasons Why I Believe in God.

1. It’s so simple.

For me it is the most obvious thing, and anyone can do it. For 60 years I’ve listened to people duck and dive around the simplicity, thinking it is far too easy to innocently ‘accept’ the honest possibility of a Designer/Creator. I’ve heard all the “Who created God, then?” arguments. In the face of such design intricacies and interlinked complexity in the natural world, simply to accept that there might be an Eternal Being who was and is the Source of it all seems so obvious to me. Why fight it?      Here’s the next one…

2. I have someone to thank, thank God.

Yes, someone to blame for all the GOOD stuff. The atheist’s most embarrassing moment is when she or he feels supremely thankful  for something and doesn’t know who to thank. Beauty. Love. Health. Sleep. Life. Children. Hope. 

3. It inspires faith.

I love the fact that you cannot prove God doesn’t exist.  Or does, of course. Believe it or not, it’s a choice! (Yes, I know this argument is rejected by all the logical people in the world who question whether we have choice or not. They rather miss the point methinks.) This doubt-ridden world is crying out for the beauty of simple trust.  Who better to trust than a loving  Creator?    OK, here’s my next one …

4. It’s healthy.

It is now well established that belief in a benevolent God has physical, emotional and psychological health benefits. They live longer, have better relationships, are more socially contributing, less stressed,  and healthier. He has to be a benevolent God though.  Malevolence has the opposite effect.

5. I’m never alone. 
Allowing myself to sense the presence (pre-sence?) of an Eternal Spirit who is interested in me and ready to connect with the deepest part of me is massively reassuring. It means that I always have someone to share my life with, who loves me unconditionally and listens to my every heartbeat, wherever I am, whatever I’m thinking, in good days and bad. 

6. It answers the question “What’s the Point?”

It has been said that the two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you found out the purpose of that event. I personally am happy to accept that there IS an objective reason for my existence – which gives a sense of fulfilment and purpose beyond the decision of a couple of people to mate and have a baby. Belief in God may be subjective, but if it is true then he is ‘beyond’ us in so many ways.  I think human beings need that ‘something, someone beyond ourselves.’ 

7.  I haven’t found anything better.

I’m talking about an all-forgiving, kind, all-powerful, GOOD God here, not a legalistic, authoritarian, punisher of human wrongs who spends his (or her, of course) time dreaming up nasties for bad behaviour.  Mine is a God who accepts me and loves me just as I am, no strings attached. ‘Love personified’ describes him well. There is nothing I can do to make him love me more … or love me less.

8.  Heaven and hope.

The God I love has prepared a perfect home for my spirit the other side of death – heaven. Bring it on … in due course, needless to say. He knows the perfect time for my transfer from this world to that one, and has it in his control.  This conviction provides deep reassuring hope.  Self-deception? Maybe. How will you or I know? (Frankly, I don’t care. This works for me.)

9. I feel deeply deeply safe.

As in ‘deeply’.  I still feel insecure sometimes, and occasionally afraid, but the safety I’m talking about is much more profound than that. It runs very deep, the reassurance that whatever happens to me physically or emotionally, spiritually I’m safe.  Secure.  It’s an all-encompassing awareness that this God is absolutely on my side and that it will be, not just alright in the end, but unimaginably amazing. To quote that 2012 classic Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (sorry!) “It’s going to be alright in the end, so if it’s not alright, it’s not yet the end.”   I love that line!

10. History.
When I was sixteen I had a stunning experience that changed my life. I may tell you about it sometime. For me it was my personal entry into an understanding of God that has affected everything. There have been hundreds of similar moments since. Some people might call them coincidences, or lucky moments, or the ‘universe’ looking after you’, or just flukes. They may be right, but that doesn’t work for me. I think such moments have a spiritual origin. They are the Creator actively participating in my daily life.  I like that.

I’d LOVE you to comment on this.  Feel free to add your honest (but polite please, or they will be taken down!) thoughts.

“I AM HERE” What on earth …

The latest Sercombe motorbike adventure was to the Outer Hebrides.  Just me, my big BMW R1200GS and my red tent.  In case you’ve never been there – and few people round West Sussex have as it’s 730 miles away –  this string of islands is off the northwest coast of Scotland, windy, rainy and cold.

And in the middle of a mile-long deserted pristine beach I saw this:

Version 2

No footprints anywhere near, except mine, and by the time I left my idyllic wild campsite overlooking the sea, the engraving was no more – washed away by the waves.

Of course it was me. In a moment of spontaneous inspiration I carved “I AM HERE” with my foot in the sand – and the thought dominated my week, as I contemplated my life, my business, God, the universe, and my future. Today I’ve been thinking about it again as I camped out last night in the wilds of the South Downs catching up with some reading.  A bit existentialist I know, but the truth is, I am here, and I will be ‘here’ for a while yet.  Wherever I am, I AM.  It’s the inescapable truth, and on the basis that the truth frees us, I’m enjoying the freedom.

Yep, I’m here, and it is up to me to make of it what I will.

I’m not on that beach any more. I am here instead, writing this blog.  I moved on, came back to Sussex, and I’m two weeks older, and although I have a camera full of Hebridean photos – Butt of Lewis lighthouse, the rocky hillsides of Harris, Benbecula, Eriskay, and a welcoming pink roofed cafe in Lochmaddy – I can never, ever, recapture that moment on the beach.

In times of quiet solitude I become particularly aware of the presence of God ‘here’, where I am, with me.  It is as if He has said, not written in sand but whispered as a permanent statement deep within, “Andrew, I am here” – wherever I am, always. Regardless of the ups and downs of my life, I’m never actually alone. The Divine Presence, the Creator, present in the world He created.  With me. Here. Now. For ever.

And today that is sufficient for me.  In fact overwhelmingly more so.  Far more important than success, or money. God is here.

And He is where you are too – such is the omnipresent nature of the Holy Spirit.  Unhampered by the limitations of time and space, God is with you as you read this on your screen – closer, actually.

3000 years ago a gifted young shepherd on the run from his tormentors wrote about it. Stunningly poetic, he wrapped it up in a way I’ll never be able to.  I’ve put a few key bits of his poem for you to read quietly before you move on into the rest of your week. Take a few moments – ten minutes? – to stop and reconnect. And whilst you’ll already know that I am here for you today (yes, me, Andrew. Just a phone or Skype call or email away), far more importantly, He is too.

Enjoy.

E:  andrew@powerchange.com   M: 07771631945  Skype: andrewsercombe  Website: www.powerchange.com

Moving out of the Quit Zone

I recently found myself in the Quit Zone again, that patch of a project, a friendship, maybe a job – and for some people, even life itself – where the desire to quit is very strong. Or maybe very VERY strong.

It surfaces as a response to other highly motivating emotions like disappointment, failure (again), rejection, and shame, or ignorance, incapacity and pain.IMG_2536

I’ve been in the Quit Zone many times, and the decision I made each time changed my life. Every Quit Zone decision does. As I look back on decades of decisions, most of them were just fine, the normal decisions we make in choosing our way forward. I work on the theory that in general, given time, one choice tends to emerge as the favourite ‘obvious’ one, so I go for it. Or not, as the case may be! When it is not so clear, either choice will be fine – I just need to make one.

But more serious Quit Zone decisions are different. The stakes are higher. They usually involve your career, your health, your financial security, and those you really love, and draw out the need to address high value character traits – courage, resilience, boldness, emotional strength.

I want to quit when:

  • I’m facing abuse, rejection or deliberately being ignored.
  • It seems the only way out of a perceived trap.
  • I want to revert to being a little boy, not a man.
  • I have run out of energy and am very tired.
  • The next ‘step’ is actually a massive leap with seemingly huge consequences.
  • Self pity kicks in.
  • I stop caring.

Although quitting is undoubtedly the wisest decision sometimes, quitting brings its own set of new problems that have to be faced and overcome.

Revelation – you can be better without being bitter

In the apocalyptic end-of-the-world vision called the Book of Revelation – the writer, banished to work in the mines of a small Greek island as punishment for sticking with his religious beliefs, writes to a little community in Laodicea on the mainland. He describes his vision of God saying to these people in effect:

“You don’t have what it takes right now.
I’m knocking on your door. Open the door to my help.
I will strengthen you, toughen you up so that you can overcome the challenges you face.
It will be a bit of a furnace, but you’ll come through it richer, more refined, without the shame you currently feel, and victorious.”

Note that the reward is for those who overcome, not to those who have no battle, nor those who have backed away from the fire, nor those who have never experienced the Quit Zone. Tough times can make the man and woman however young or old they are.

Tough people press through the challenge and reemerge on the other side ‘better, not bitter’.

If you’re in the Quit Zone today, decide what you want, act towards it, see what happens, and adjust. It may turn out differently from what you fear.

It has for me.

Full Circle to Christianity’s ‘faith, hope and love’.

In a world where the usual reassurances are no longer working, where, across the world, confidence in government, education, business and justice systems – even in ourselves – is at an all-time low, more and more people are looking around with searching eyes, hunting for some roots, some solid ground beneath their feet, something – anything – that they can rely on as an ultimate safety net, a better pathway along which to walk into the future and a better way of living for the present.IMG_2204

Is this ‘something’ God? Not the universe, energy, or Nature, but the God of Christianity, the creator of it all? I am increasingly of the conviction that it is.

There is an unwavering hope, wholeness and security in the Christian Faith. With its clear clean message of the ultimate in love, freedom and justice, it is proving yet again to be better than any kitchen or partner update, more reliable than Wikipedia, and more secure than a gated property or any amount of money in the bank.

Built around relevant real-time local worshipping communities, Christianity has consistently invited people to a liberating spiritual surrender of their lives to their Creator – along with a radical review of their current values and attitudes – reaching out to him in humility, faith and commitment.

The result is a profound sideways ‘paradigm’ shift, into a new world and a new way of thinking, where the goals and aspirations of 21st Century living are replaced by much more profound goals and aspirations that cannot be bettered and will last, literally, for ever.

  • Welcome to the experience of a loving and eternal here-and-now God who we can truly connect with and be honestly accountable to.
  • Welcome to the promise of heaven and eternal life awaiting us beyond our physical death.
  • Welcome to a set of uncompromised day-to-day guiding life principles that have been around since the beginning of time and we can surrender to.
  • Welcome to an understanding of the world we live in that takes us beyond the natural worries and concerns of economic growth, survival of the fittest, cancer and redundancy.

Yes, welcome to the faith-filled, hope-filled, and love-filled life of 21st Century Christianity. Signing up has changed the lives of thousands of millions across the world for over two millennia. Some track record, eh?  Agreed, there is a price to pay – the price is simply everything you have, do and are.  Everything.

I’m in.

Wasting a Moment.

It’s an odd comment, isn’t it: “There’s not a moment to waste!”

I’ve ‘wasted’ lots of moments this month.  August 2013’s remarkable beauty, particularly here in West Sussex, has requested that I stop and stare, contemplate, think, pray and dream.

IMG_1581
View from the swinging seat.

The swinging seat (or covered deck) in our enclosed, deliciously private garden gazing with wonder at some of the nine varieties of trees we have planted.

The bench seat in the back of my newly converted T4 VW camper (with the door wide open) looking out onto Bosham waterfront.

The two-mile-long beach on the Gower Peninsula having walked across the rocks of Worms Head.

Gazing down over Storrington from Chantry Post as my friend Derek and I shared lunch – these have all played host to me ‘wasting a moment’, or maybe hours.

And June had many ‘wasted moments’ too as I took the Camper to Orkney via Loch Ness and Inverness, then down the west coast of Scotland from Cape Wrath (what a name!), round the gorgeous Applecross peninsula, down through Yorkshire, a bare star lit field in Cumbria, home to Sussex again.

IMG_1755
Vital Spark hiding in a scottish harbour.

Alone. Quiet. Still. Gentle. Literally ‘thought provoking’ hours.

Wasted moments?  Of course not. These ‘wasted moments’ have been some of my most creative times, times of reevaluation, study,  times when crucial insights mushroom from an atom-sized spark in my brain, forming, growing, transforming.

And who decides what is wasted and what is not?  How can I ever know that the thoughts that came as I sat on the swinging seat were, in fact, wasted? Or the prayers I prayed.  How can anyone, in this infinitely complex world of unexpected, unintended, unpretended ‘coincidences’ know what is wasted and what is priceless?

The most creative and life-changing moments come from surprise connections. In the last week: a meeting in a motorcycle dealership; a conversation on a Art Trail (through 40 private homes in Arundel); another, sitting on a bank of wind-swept grass waiting for the tide.

Waiting for the tide.
Waiting for the tide, Worm’s Head, Gower.

Go waste some time.  It beats obsessing about efficiency and slotting people into already jammed diaries.  Ugh! How do YOU like being ‘fitted in’ to places?  Me too!  Yet the work still gets done, my contribution made.

So put aside the world’s demands for it to consume more of your life for a bit. Leave “Juggling your life” to the editors of life-style magazines and programme editors. Risk ‘wasting’ some time between now and mid October.

Be an example to the world of someone who knows how and when to STOP.  Step back from – or step out of –  the lemming- race and see what happens. Wait for the tide.

And if you meet a Kind Stranger? Well, you’re in for a very nice surprise.

Andrew’s Secrets of Successful Coaching #1.

I’ve sometimes been asked how it is I am able to ‘get inside’ a client’s life and thinking so quickly. How is it I seem to know where to go in the coaching conversation? How is it they are so honest so quickly, often in a way they have never been with (literally) anyone else? What is the secret?SnapnDrag614

Take a few minutes off right now and read through this – to the end. It will definitely be worth it!

The secret isn’t particularly a secret, but in this day and age talking about a subject like this is emotive. People get sensitive about it, not least because it can be so misunderstood. Today I’m going to risk that misunderstanding, pluck up the courage to ‘come out’ and tell you.

Ready? Here it is: I choose to love my clients.

Simple, isn’t it? Whilst I am working with them, and actually from then on to one extent or another, I love them. Good old-fashioned human love. The love of one good person towards another. The stuff that makes the world work so much better.

Wholesome, honest, kind, honouring, ‘agape’ love. Love that is trustworthy. Love that is strong and challenging. Love that protects the wellbeing, respect and physical and emotional boundaries of another human being. Love that doesn’t exploit or abuse. Love that tells the truth, but not more than they can bear. Love that focuses on giving, not taking (‘Love’ that depletes the recipient is not love at all). Love that makes the giver vulnerable (as writing about it publicly like this does). Love that keeps the receiver safe.

Love that protects without being protective. Love that is direct without being directive. Love that sacrifices without being sacrificial. Love that is kind and shares.

SnapnDrag613
Romanian village woman joyfully shares her apples.

Love that smiles, hugs and embraces – and buys the coffee. Love that is comfortably warm and has nothing to do with current concepts of ‘hot’. Love that goes the extra mile – and goes one more after that. And the kind of love that knows when to speak and when to listen. And love that willingly expresses its natural affection in a way that is healthy and welcome.

Just let me put on record that this is a million miles from the pseudo-love that is coercive, focused on sex, pitying, or even ‘charitable’ in the victorian sense of the word – or the sort of ‘love’ that creates an impression of kindness but is actually motivated by something more sinister, more one-sided. That kind of so-called ‘love’ is horrible, and such a distortion of the real thing. It is the greatest sadness to me that for many millions of people – maybe for one or two who will read this blog – it is the only understanding of the word ‘love’ they know.

Maybe that’s one particular reason I so enjoy Therapeutic Coaching. Apart from all the other good and liberating things it does, it empowers people to love.

I learnt primarily about love from my mother, but also from my mentor, Campbell McAlpine, both of whom demonstrated selfless acceptance of a young Andrew Sercombe, and provided me with the experiences of love I needed in order to love others – however inadequately I manage that, because as those close to me know, I’m not always loving. Sometimes I’m just plain selfish.

There are three things that we are told will endure for ever: faith, hope, and love. Without love there can be little trust, the trust which enables faith in others, and there is certainly no hope for our world in the future if love is missing. Who would look forward to a world like that? So the greatest of these three has to be…

Yep. Love.

PS: If you’ve got a problem with love – giving it, receiving it, or because someone has abused the concept – get in touch with me andrew@powerchange.com or at www.powerchange.com. I or one of our coaching team may be able to help.

 

Acceptance or Affection?

Acceptance or affection – what would your priority choice be?

two children hugging
Tender picture of a little girl showing her brother(?) how much she loves him!  (Borrowed from www.beliefnet.com. It seems to be a neat little multi-faith site and worth the visit I made to it.)

I’ve thought a lot about it this month  – not least because we are running the next ‘C’ in the SEVEN series in Powerchange and its ‘Clarity’ and as I was preparing the course I wanted clarity on this for me.  Acceptance or Affection?

For me it is definitely affection.  Acceptance is great, but affection is better.  Acceptance is an early condition that allows affection to flow, but affection changes us at a different level.  Acceptance makes the connection.  Affection is the content. It is the oil, acceptance is the pipeline and tap. Affection ‘affects’ us, pouring in the tenderness and warmth, the love that human beings are designed to respond to…

… provided it is sincere.  I guess insincere ‘affection’ is no more than treating the other person as a toy. I’m not even going to suggest ‘sincere affection’ as a qualifier, because affection HAS to be sincere in order to fulfil the definition.

Affection is giving not taking.  It means something is transferred from one person to another. Affection is transforming – even in animals. Their heart rate slows, breathing becomes deeper,  ‘good’ chemicals flow around their arteries and into their cells. Oxytocin, vasopressin, dopamine.

Affection  – bring it on!  Sex is about reproduction. Making love is about affection. A kiss on each cheek is (normally – there are notable exceptions) about acceptance.  A sincere durable hug is more affectionate. Affection – the expression of sincere love.

Affection. It grows as it is spread around. People around you are desperate for some. Share some today.

 

 

Max Winchester Visits Bethlehem

Max hadn’t intended to visit Bethlehem. The truth is, geography never has been his strong point, and satellite technology isn’t either. When the word ‘Stable’ had come up on his TomTom, he’s assumed that it meant something completely different. He’d hit the ‘Go’ button – with a degree of his normal trepidation – and driven off into the night. Mrs Winchester, knowing the limits of her beloved husband’s technological skills, and aware that he’d left his trusty AA map at home, went to bed a little worried. In the morning, when his side of the bed had remained unslept in, she phoned the police.

No, they hadn’t had any reports of accidents, but thanked her for leaving her details. She heard the Community Support Officer on the other end of the phone snigger as she mentioned his satnav skills. As Mrs W. returned the old phone to its rest, she noticed his mobile on the chair. The battery was flat. Her faith in angelic beings looking after her beloved husband of forty years would be tested over the next few days – and it was. She slept not a wink that night, lying in bed imagining the worst. Or even worse.

If she had only checked with his credit card company in the ensuing week she would have found a series of petrol purchases across Germany, Austria, Croatia and Greece. (Greece was worrying.) And a huge cash withdrawal at Athens. Little did she know that as she lay in bed on the fourth night, their little Ford Fiesta was on board a ferry in the Med, headed for Haifa.

Max Winchester arrived at Haifa and continued to follow TomTom diligently. The man at the border had asked him for his passport, and he was relieved to realise he had on the same jacket he’d been wearing when they’d done their last international trip – Newhaven to Dieppe in the summer. The passport was in his inside pocket. What a stroke of luck! He still remained a little confused about how he had managed to travel so far when he’d only planned to go Christmas shopping at Bluewater. The Med had indeed appeared to be the only blue water he had been in close contact with since he’d left home. However, during his drive through Albania he had noticed a particularly bright star in the night sky. He’d found it strangely comforting – not least in the absence of Mrs W’s reassuring night-time warmth that he had snuggled up to for so many years. This shopping trip had not been quite what he’d imagined, and he knew there was no way he could do anything other than follow the satnav. He’d be lost without it.

He drove out of Haifa with his spirits high, and it was one in the morning when, having had a bit of a kip in the back seat, he checked the satnav again. Only ten miles to go!

The next city looked very unattractive. “Unemployment high here” he told himself as he surveyed the unkempt streets with their high walls covered with graffiti. Very down market. Poor. Not a very safe place to stay. He kept an eye open for a place where he could get a room for what was left of the night – with secure parking. Mrs W. would be very disappointed if he came home without the car.

So it was that a few minutes later a little inn attracted his attention, and he pulled over. This place really was the pits. The gum-chewing girl on reception was chatting up a bunch of locals who smelt of, well, the countryside, and through a doorway he could see there was clearly a lot of activity going on under the light in an old stable. He could hear a girl crying in distress. What on earth…

Max never forgot that out-of-this-world moment. It wasn’t the teenager giving birth, or the scruffiness of it all. It was as if a shaft of burning light like lightning pierced his heart on that December night.

And back in her warm bed, Mrs W. switched off the light, closed her eyes and slept like a baby.

Part 2 … Coming Home.

The Kind Stranger: On the Beach

I was sitting alone on holiday in the sun when the Kind Stranger came to me next. I’d been weary and tired – they’re different, aren’t they – and needed to hear a reassuring voice.

The beach at Speightstown, Barbados.

But it was his shadow I noticed first. It cast itself across the table I was sitting at and I knew straight away it was him. Typically he was not visibly filling the vacant chair at my side, but we both knew he was there. If he had been visible to the naked eye as well as the naked spirit, he would have been leaning back, smiling, relaxed, maybe with his legs crossed, drinking a smoothie.

“Hi Andrew.” It’s great he knows my name as well as yours. “Thinking again I see.”

“Yes, I do a lot of that.”

He didn’t reply. It amuses me how he is perfectly happy to leave my comments and expressed thoughts untouched. He has no compulsion to express his own (priceless) opinions, or pronounce subtle judgements in the way we humans are so clever at doing. So I asked him a question.

“Do you think a lot?”

He chuckled, as if the question itself was a little absurd.

“I used to,” he said. “However, now I tend to live more in the moment, being less concerned about having a thought-out answer for life’s pressing questions. Sometimes they’re better left alone with their mystery intact. I tend to consider whether or not the question has a satisfying answer – whether it needs to be asked at all. Often people ask questions to provide them with greater security or greater power. I’m not short of either of those!”

He paused, then continued, “And sometimes people think thinking is a safer alternative to acting, living out their lives.”

“Thinking to avoid the risk of failing, maybe?” I ventured.

He smiled again. “Could be.”

We’re never rushed when we’re together, the Kind Stranger and me. I don’t think he does ‘rushed’. We just sat for a few minutes, and then …

“I think to puzzle things out,” I said, “to somehow grasp the complexities of life and understand them, to simplify them, to increase my knowledge. In Powerchange we say that people are hunting for MCC, meaning, clarity, and closure.”

“And does it work?” he asked.

“I think so – it helps people make sense of a jumbled world.”

“That sounds to me like a quest for peace of mind!” he laughed.

“Absolutely!” I returned. We both laughed and the conversation went quiet for a few more minutes. We just sat.

“Andrew, I love you, you know.”

“Yes, I do know. I feel very very safe with THAT knowledge. It definitely brings MCC for me.”

“I love you when you’re thinking and when you’re not. I love you when you have answers and when you don’t. I love you when you feel safe and when you feel scared, and as I’ve said before, you’ll never be outside that love.”

I cannot describe how good it felt to hear him say that – though I’d known it to be true for many years. Friendship this deep, this real, this accepting, cannot be confined to the meagre expressions of the English language. It is drawn in through every sense we have – and more.

As I sat looking out from my shady table over the turquoise sea, listening to the breaking waves lap the shore, in my mind I saw the Kind Stranger get up from the table.

“Come on!” he invited. “Enough thinking!”

“Where are we going?” I asked, then watched in horror as he walked out on the surface of the water.

Another question, eh!” He teased. “You’ll never know if you stay where you are now. Come on, follow me.”

I rose from the table, left some change for the bill, and took a deep breath. Some things you just have to do, so I stepped onto the water too. It took a few steps of practice faith – about twenty or so – and I sank several times, but I soon got the knack.

You do, don’t you?