The church column with Rev Neville Simpson

Rev Neville SImpson.
Rev Neville SImpson.

My punctuation is not good. I thank God for the spelling and grammar check on my computer (apart from when it goes American on me).

Lynne Truss makes the importance of punctuation in her book ‘Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation’. She warns about the dangers of ambiguous grammatical construction. For example ‘A panda walks into a cafe. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and proceeds to fire it at the other patrons. ‘Why?’ asks the confused, surviving waiter amidst the carnage, as the panda makes towards the exit.

Pocklington Methodist Church. Picture: Roger Pattison.

Pocklington Methodist Church. Picture: Roger Pattison.

The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder. ‘Well, I’m a panda’ he says. ‘Look it up’. The waiter turns to the relevant entry and, sure enough, finds an explanation.

‘Panda a large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.” I never thought I could cause such carnage with poor punctuation. If I’m honest grammatical construction is not top of my agenda.

The person who proof read my dissertation for my academic work a few years ago said she had never seen such voluminous and creative use of the semi-colon.

The punctuation that has started my brain whirring is the punctuation of life. Those events that make us pause, bring a stop or question what to do next. It has my attention because of events in the last month. My comma is a significant birthday ending in a zero.

You can’t help but pause, look back and ponder the future. What has my life achieved? What will the next years bring? My full stop is the death of my mother-in-law a much-loved lady. Whilst I have memories to treasure I will visit her no more. I will debate and disagree with her and laugh with her no more.

Life has changed forever.

It is something we all face.

My question mark every five years the Methodist Church reviews whether its ministers move. Is it time to move at the disposal of the church to anywhere in the country or to stay here?

It is a time of discernment, prayer and reflection by many people including me.

The outcome is to stay here in Pocklington for another five years.

The punctuation marks of life whether commas, full stops, question marks or exclamation marks are stressful and life changing. How do we deal with them? I can only speak for myself and for me it has been to look at the whole of life as the framework within which the punctuations take place. I believe in God who loves me and wants the best for me. I believe in God who journeys with me through all of my life. I believe in friendship of the local church that has shown love, support and encouragement to me.

I believe in the potential for good within each human being as displayed by the care of friends in my times of difficulty and decision. Whatever commas, full stops, and question marks in the punctuation of life you face at this time may your transcript of life with its values and support mechanisms help you make sense of it.

I also have to say as a minister may God come close whether you believe in him or not! My apology if this is a misuse of an exclamation mark! Again!