Sweating and out of breath, I emerged from the bushes.
“Is that you Kevin?”, she asked.
I was putting on my dog collar.
“What are you doing?”, she continued.
“I was really hot and sweaty so I was just cooling off…”
“In the bushes?”
This doesn’t sound good. Try again.
“I’m on my way to a funeral visit…”
“In the bushes? Who’s died, a squirrel?”
“Haha, no, I’m on my way to a funeral visit and I’m a bit early and I cycled here and so rather than arriving in a sweaty heap I found some shade in the bushes…”
I frantically point at my bike. And my funeral book.
And my crumpled sense of dignity.
“Again, in the bushes?”
My friend from the running club doesn’t look convinced.
I look like I’m making it up.
I can see the headlines: Sweating Vicar Caught in Bushes
*brief internal crisis ensues*
I decide I believe myself. I am not making it up.
“I’ve just cycled in 30 degree heat…” I quickly explained.
“But you only live round the corner?”
I’m not sure I even believe my own story.
What am I doing here?
“No, I went somewhere else first, so I’ve cycled quite far, and I just thought I’d cool off so as not to terrify a bereaved old lady who will already not expect such a ‘young man’ at her door and definitely won’t appreciate a ‘sweaty young man’…”
My garbled explanation tails off.
A family from toddler group wave from across the road.
My friend continues on her way to the shops, chuckling.
I stay in the shade. But out of the bushes. Also chuckling.
As I prepare for a summer break, my prayer is for rest. This has been a very full-on year, with my colleague on maternity leave, an Oasis youth work student on placement in our house, family illness and family dramas alongside the usual highs and lows of ministry.
Sometimes it has felt like cycling in 30 degree heat, and now is the time to find some shade in the bushes.
As I prepare for a summer break, my prayer for you is for rest. I know many people who won’t have the opportunity to go away, and for whom the summer holidays are not restful at all. My prayer is that if you need shade, you can seek it out, even in the most unlikely places.
May God lead you to green pastures beside still waters and give you rest. Or at least some shade in the bushes.
Enjoy the Olympics.I’m logging off. See you in a few weeks.