We run a drop-in centre every Friday evening from 6:30 - 9:30. It is held in an upstairs hall we call "The Upper Room". All sorts of people come. Some are alcoholics; many are mental health patients; most are unemployed and some struggle with drug issues. The youngest there last Friday night was a baby about 3 months old, the oldest an alcoholic who visits from a psychiatric ward was in his mid to late 70s. When I opened the doors at 6:30 to let the waiting crowd in, I noticed the father of the baby was leaning against the church doors, downing a stubby of beer. By the look of him it was not his first! Later he staggered in and played pool. I came down stairs half-way through the night to discover that he had smashed a half full bottle of beer on the all weather matting in the entrance way of the church hall. I began to gather the gear to clean up the slithers of glass and excess beer.
We have a well known town drunk, we'll call her Mary who attends the church drop-in. Her life story is sad indeed, and now in her fifties she is seldom sober and often in court. Well Mary discovered this mess the same time I did. She was lovely. She was totally angry that someone would smash a beer bottle in a church! For her, churches were God's house! She apologised to me for the guy's actions and in spite of the protestations of her caring husband, insisted on getting down on her knees to help me pick up the glass and empty the excess beer into a bucket. I was so so touched. Here in the midst of her muddled mind still shining through is a beautiful caring spirit. I could not help but reach my arm around her shoulder and give her a friendly hug when we had finished the job.