Friday 2 July 2021

And I laughed like Sarah

A diversion from destination

About coincidences, I would err on the side of the uncanny, or what would I attribute an encounter I had this evening to? My walk was to take me all the way to River Mersey and Chorlton Water Park, just about 9 kilometres in all until I came to a standstill where the police and fire engines had sealed off the main road that I had to take a detour.

When I first started my walks almost a year ago, I did circuits around Alexandra Park, that it came to mind, when I returned home to pick up a notepad and pen, was interesting, but it was not my direction of travel. As it transpired, my detour led to Alexandra Park and walked into the park and took a seat on a bench.

A nod and a greeting

I made a few phone calls and played a couple of Sudoku games on my mobile phone before I got up to return home, first needing to dispose of some litter in a bin. To my left as I walked up the wide path, an older black man nodded in acknowledgement towards me before I answered back and then he suggested he might have met me somewhere. I could not say.

He asked if I was Nigerian, I responded my parents were and he volunteered he was Nigerian, from the West, from Abeokuta. I had visited Abeokuta twice as my father used to work at a brewery that had offices there. One of those visits allowed a tour of Olumo Rock.

I laughed like Sarah

Typically, he asked if I had a wife to which I answered I have not been blessed with that kind of companionship and I have learnt to be content with the situation I am in. It was at that point that he averred that to God nothing is impossible. I intoned, he made me laugh like Sarah. This referring to a biblical story where Sarah the childless wife of the patriarch Abraham was promised a child in her old age within the year. She laughed at the incredulity of it, she did eventually give birth to Isaac. [BibleHub: Genesis 18:12]

The conversation continued, on the theme of the omnipotence of God with verses from Jeremiah, the Psalms, the book of Job, and the epistle of Paul to the Ephesians. This was interspersed with testimonies of success, inspiration, and ideas for progress in his life.

He had many stories

He was a career soldier who diversified into poultry business, suffered a failed first marriage yet got introduced to his second wife by his first and through his new wife’s British citizenship, he shuttles between Nigeria and the United Kingdom, pastoring a church in both countries. His repartee was engaging whilst serious and meaningful too. A good deal of it was in Yoruba.

I am wary of being proselytised and avoid the prospect of ritual, I have done too many from childhood into adolescence, but much of what he shared would be useful for meditation and consideration. We ended with a moment of prayer before asked to show me his wife’s store on the main road and after walking together a few hundred yards, he veered off towards his home as I did mine.

To laugh like Sarah

To laugh like Sarah is not so much an expression of disbelief but one measures a current situation against a promised outcome that literally seems impossible, yet, it is put in the scheme of things as possible, if you dare to consider it. To laugh like Sarah is to prepare yourself for something good, something long longed for that you might have now given up on it. To laugh like Sarah is to begin to write a different story in anticipation of the transformation from the ordinary into the extraordinary.

To banish all my fears and realise my hopes with my wildest dreams coming into a reality I could not begin to imagine. There will be much to laugh about, the laughter of joy, the laughter of goodness, the laughter of the miraculous, the laughter of gratitude. We can all begin to laugh like Sarah when we are told what we thought can never be is just about to happen. I am laughing like Sarah.

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