Saturday, February 23, 2013

The disappointed taxi driver

He drove us to the airport yesterday. He was a big man with straggling beard in a crumpled white pin stripped suit.

He was garrulous - occasionally announcing that he had better shut up now and concentrate on getting us to the airport only to start up again in the hairbreadth of a moment.

We learnt first that he had studied mathematics and physics at university (in Zambia) but failed the last two courses (in quantum theory) and, because he did not have money to re-sit, had to leave university without a degree. I was reminded of those business cards you used to see (in India) with BA (Failed) on them. The person, at least, had made the attempt and that was a source of justifiable pride. The taxi driver had his transcripts, he told us, fourteen of sixteen courses passed. The mixture of pride and opportunity lost in his voice was breakingly sad.

He was now 52 and his life had clearly lurched from one unsuccessful venture to another as if this early failure had left a culpable mark on his life. For the past 5 years he had been in South Africa driving a taxi.

He was one of those people whose avuncular manner seemed to skate, thinly, over a deeper inner sadness.

Now he had decided to turn his mind to preaching the Word. He offered us a complex account of why the world must have been created in seven days. This appeared to revolve around the fact that though days, months and years are natural cycles, the week is an invention; and, thus, must be a gift from God (as is described in Scripture). The novelty of this argument (and the complexity of its delivery) rather slipped by me given that I had spent the previous five days in virtually continuous 'facilitator/training' mode and as we explained to him we were, sadly, pretty much brain dead even though his captive audience.

But even here the role of pastor appeared to be eluding him. He told us that all the communities he had consulted told him he needed a clear calling from God but he rejected this, feeling it was sufficient to simply put oneself at God's service which may be a sensible, straightforward view but not one destined to convince any likely community that he had the necessary charism. You could see, feel further disappointment in the making.

Meanwhile, if he is to be pastor, he will need to work on both his swearing and his uncharitable (and colourfully expressed) views of his fellow men and women (when they are behind a wheel)!

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