Forty-Nine Shades of Grey

You remember that posh new Summerhouse we bought last year, with its crumbling concrete base? The good news – it’s still standing. The bad news – it’s served for most of this year as a store room.

This was all because our rather undersized garage, built into the bank on two sides, was damp. It smelt like a dungeon. To add to our woes, the wall between our house and our neighbours’ was staring at us with increasingly menacing threats to collapse whenever we went out of the door. The rendering on our house was disintegrating in places, and the driveway was becoming an increasingly loving home for moss and weeds. Something had to be done.

Well, it was, but not by me. I often find it awe-inspiring to watch tradesmen at work as they transform your property. Paul and James dismantled, then rebuilt the garage into a utility room. Once the new, non-leaky roof had gone on, the shell of the room became their cabin for about three weeks.

They persuaded us to place some ornaments on top, so for Jane’s birthday Helen and I bought some glow-in-the-dark gnomes and some ‘creatures’ made out of resin. You can see a pair of said gnomes cosying up to a cockerel in the picture.

Next up was the rendering, a challenge what with the frosty mornings of April and the deluges of May…but lovely now it’s done. Then – the driveway. From the splendid catalogue, I’d decided we’d go for Tegula Drivesett Harvest, a gorgeous gold-coloured block paving stone, with charcoal edging. But, to my horror Chris, our ‘man’, told us there was a shortage ‘because of Coronavirus’ (how come?). Our choice lay between a dirty pink (eugh!) or – grey. You could have as many shades of grey as you liked, but nothing else. Unlike Jane who liked some of them, I said I’d rather be dead than be saddled with a grey drive.

The next day two friends, Barry and Audrey, passed our house and made an inspired suggestion. Perhaps Chris could get a few ‘Harvest’ bricks and make a feature out of them, an island in a sea of grey? And he did! On our splendid new drive there’s the tiniest little triangle that acts as an epitaph to John’s frustrated colour choice.

And so, on Saturday, we proudly entertained our first visitors who parked on our new drive and sat in our Wendy House. We all admired the yellowish greys, sooty greys and mid greys of our new paving stones. I like them now! Please don’t tell Jane I said so…

St Paul was no stranger to changes of plan. He was determined to preach the Gospel in Rome, but never did he imagine he’d arrive there after a dangerous shipwreck, as a prisoner! Yet he wrote to his friends at Philippi, Chapter 1 vs 12-13, to say that

“what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.  As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.”

He preached the Gospel in Rome, alright. Legend has it that, such was Paul’s influence on his captors, they had to keep changing the guard! Paul’s ‘reverses’ became his greatest opportunities.

What about the church today? On the face of it, life after lockdown looks worrying. We’ve lost members. Some groups aren’t planning to re-start. I think our challenge is to follow Paul’s example, to see the opportunities to share Jesus in ‘The New Normal’. Not to mourn the passing of ‘harvest’ but to enjoy the shades of grey!

2 thoughts on “Forty-Nine Shades of Grey

  1. Aha! I think I know who those guests were! You were both tickled pink (oops!) that we intuitively parked in the spare space instead of on the road 🙂 We were both genuinely impressed with the quality of all the work … including the drive


  2. Thank you for this John. Made me smile. Well done in finding the humour in a challenging situation. I bet your builders were a bit sad when their job was finished. (No doubt you or Jane kept them supplied with treats to accompany their tea breaks)

    Hope things are going well with your mum and sorting her house.

    Look forward to seeing you soon as you’re available.

    X Ann


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