The Mental Case Aug 04 2020
The Mental Case

By The Mental Case


This was an entry about finding stuff. About finding unusual things in unusual places. Turns out that it’s about losing stuff. And things getting broken.


I was on the lookout for him lately. I’d spotted him at St Margaret’s at Cliffe. I got there as the sun rose. There was just me and him. Plus a guy with a pair of binoculars. He told me a story how he met with the human jetsam, washed up and weary on the beach. He would talk to them, those who answered he left alone. Those who spoke no English, he reported. Good to hear some traditional values at work. Thanks, Nige.


Soon the man left, his binoculars flapping on his chest. Off to meet Sky TV. His chest puffed out. And we were alone. The sky was a wall of blue.



“ The cliffs were a wall of green and white. The sea shimmering gold braid. I found it. How could you miss it ?. . .]



Them. The fingerprints of God. Once a lonely foundling, I was now found. Once lost, I was now cradled in morning sunbeams. You don’t need to believe me. Just watch the dawn break tomorrow. Over Cromwell Road. Over the Harbour. Over the Nep. It’s that quiver in your tummy, words don’t quite catch it, time seems to freeze. It’s Creation. For the infinite time, there it is.

Quite some gift.


Typically, Eden wasn’t enough. Bipolar bears don’t know when to stop hunting. Eyes now open, I saw Him in all places. I always sensed him in the eyes of my children, their laughs, their sleeping bodies, their strands of golden hair. I wanted to hunt him down in his house. So last Sunday I went to knock on his door. He obviously lived at cliff faces and in ocean waves. How was he in Swalecliffe, the unfashionable centre of suburbia ?


There was much to drive me away. A well meaning and elderly elder directed me to the back. She knew my bipolar CV – they’d be no trouble here, thanks. I tried to engage in a theological chat but was blocked with a tablet of stone. If God has forsaken anywhere it was here. No-one spoke. We sat at distance. We all wore masks. There was no singing. The moderator wore the coloured shirt of a children’s television presenter. Hymns came on sterile CDs. Sermons came from Luke – something preposterous about lepers and Samaritans. No space to debate scripture- God would not approve.


And yet God came. As he comes to us at all times and in spaces. At the back, I sat against the wall. Not quite against the wall. There was a ladder laid flat. Tucked away for sorting out windows or similar, I suspect. As the congregation did their stuff, all silences and obedience and deference and traditions,



“ I took up the ladder. I was invisible and made no sound. . .]



I took up the ladder and set it upright, right angles to the floor. I poked it upwards and a window shattered. The glass cascaded in shards of light. Without support I climbed the rungs to the ceiling. Through the shattered ceiling window and onto the roof. He met me there. Amongst the gulls and the breeze and the view out to the shore and ocean. We laughed together and what man had done with him.


It was OK. For only moments was I alone on the roof. In seconds they joined me, one by one. Lastly, the coloured shirt was pulled up and hugged me without words. I remember the songs we sang. Such songs. Abide with me. Jerusalem. I Danced in the Morning. Morning has broken. This was a sure footed congregation – where once the elder slipped, I took her hand and smiled. She smiled back.


So the foundling found him in Swalecliffe. It was a good start – I’ll be back in two weeks.


But life brings challenges. I’d taken my eye off the ball. I’d found some souls but left behind my heart. Somehow she’d slipped. In the melee, I wonder if I’ve broken things. Maybe she can hear me ?



I wanna take you dancing
I wanna paint the street
Take my lungs if you need to breathe
Take my heart if you need a beat


The words of a pop tune. The sound of a breaking heart. God bless us all.



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