My new Friday blog is for excerpts, tantalisingly chosen, from my new book God’s Upgrades … My Adventures. Here’s your starter:
I have a philosophy of life. It says that everyone you know, however briefly, leaves you with something which makes your life richer. It might be quite an insignificant thing: we still use the recipe for leek and potato soup which a parishioner in my first job put in the parish magazine. My ex-brother-in-law was the first person to play me Paul Simon’s Graceland album. Another guy I met at a conference taught me how to do video editing, which I now use all the time. Another unknown star was the first person to introduce me to the music of jazz bass virtuoso Brian Bromberg. Little things, but I’d be so much poorer without them.
Sometimes it’s not what you’d expect which lasts. For a while we went to a church Homegroup, where our leaders faithfully led us in prayer and Bible study week by week. But the really important thing they gave me was cheese. I grew up in a family where my Dad just couldn’t stand cheese, so there was never any in the house. On the odd occasions I did manage to try any, I had to agree with him: it was gross. But as I grew up and began to realise that there was more to cheese than yellow-orange cuboids of hard cheddar I became fascinated at all the different shapes, sizes, textures and smells available. I began wistfully to wish that I did like the stuff. I’m like that with tomatoes too: I wish I liked them but I just don’t. I spent one Greek holiday with the deliberate aim of getting to like them. I’d heard that if you eat something for long enough you get to enjoy it, and all those Greek salads would give me ample opportunity. But I discovered that the only way I could manage to eat the things was to smother them in tomato ketchup, which made them just about bearable, and also speaks volumes about the relationship between ketchup and real tomato. The net result was that I still hate them, and I spoilt my holiday into the bargain.
Anyway, our Homegroup leaders invited us round for a meal, and out came the cheeseboard at the end. I confessed my sad inability to eat the stuff, but my wish that I could, and with the infinite care and patience which only good Homegroup leaders can muster, they suggested I might try a little bit of this one, as it didn’t really taste much like cheese. So I tried my first ever crumb of that Austrian smoked stuff, which looks like a little brown plastic sausage, and much to my delight it wasn’t half bad. That moment was a turning point for me, and I began to explore, and eventually get to love, the rich variety of cheesy comestibles which in his bounty God has put into our world. Peter and Elizabeth: you changed my life!
But this book is about something bigger than music or cheese. If individuals, and some of them like ships passing in the night, can leave me with so much, weaving into my life things which have left me different and for which I remain profoundly grateful, how much more have I seen God weave into my life? And how much greater is the possibility of change and newness when God meets us and puts into our lives things for which we remain profoundly grateful?
God’s Upgrades … My Adventures was published in May 2014 by Authentic Media and is available online or from Christian Bookshops.