I READ Fr. Raglan Hay-Will’s heart-warming New Year message about swapping the traditional Christmas turkey for a fry-up!
I may have met Raymond on two occasions at the back of the church last December.
On the first occasion I heard a low voice with an eloquent appeal “to spare some money for the poor” and turned to see a big man with a rucksack sitting on a chair behind me. I said that I hadn’t any money .
“Knock on the door of the priest’s house. They’ll give you a cup of tea and a sandwich.”
“Do you think I’m stupid?” he replied, getting up and stalking off with his rucksack.
The second occasion, it was the same place, at Midnight Mass.
I took his hand at the sign of peace, and thought his presence was something to do with Eastbourne’s chapel surfing set up. Later, I couldn’t quite believe it.
A woman started to chide him about his intention to smoke a cigarette and it became a bewildering scene with appeals for assistance, threats to call the police, answering back and a menacing angry fist motioning towards her, and a bag and coke bottle rather bravely picked up and dropped in the church porch outside.
A man engaged him in conversation and persuaded him outside the door.
Feeling confused, I decide to leave and say something.
I overheard “...picking on me.” and said,“Nobody’s picking on you. I have just made the sign of peace with you and now you are causing a disturbance. All we ask is, that you respect the church.”
I asked his name but he was in no mood to say.
I left, hoping that those few words will sink in, and pretty glad to cling Scrooge-like to some bedposts!
I’d had my nightmare and good deed wrapped up together in one big Christmas present.