AJ works in the welfare sector (is that vague enough for you?!). It would be easy for this to descend (ascend?) into a post on the wonders of AJ (which there are many), so let me just say that he is an extraordinary man with more gifts and depth than most realise, and he is very good at this job. AJ has an ability to be compassionate and pragmatic, empathetic but not effected.
He is also a great teacher. You didn’t know that, did you?
He may not get up on a Sunday morning and preach, he may not even say much in a small group setting. But sitting around the BBQ with his mates, having a beer, telling stories, that is when you will hear the riches of his experiences. That is when you will hear the Kingdom of God ride in on words of compassion and grief. That is when you will get to see the grandness of God’s justice and dignity – because my husband carries them in his hands. He has taught me that inequality comes in all shapes and forms. He has taught me, and to those close to him, that all people deserve dignity and compassion.
AJ is also a cyclist. AJ is not built like a cyclist. He is 6ft 3, broad shouldered and all torso. Often people will comment that he doesn’t look like a cyclist, to which he shrugs and smiles. He knows that most people don’t ‘look’ like who they are. He knows that most of us are carrying pain and grief just below the surface.
AJ reminded me again today that when God spoke of the homeless and loveless, He did so in the hope that we would know that there was never meant to be ‘the homeless’ or ‘the loveless’. That the great sorrow of this world is that there are those who know no home or love or dignity. When Scripture speaks of the widows and orphans, we are meant to grieve the reality that they walk among us. We are meant to understand that inequality in all its dark forms is as far removed from the Kingdom of God as east is from the west.
AJ has taught me to lay down my fear and anger and to pick up compassion and dignity instead. He knows there is little room or time for my raging at the unknown and unfixable. He is teaching me to lift my head, hold out my hand and walk with the widows, the homeless, the loveless and the broken. For that is reality of the Kingdom of God.