I caught Freddie Flintoff’s Field of Dreams on TV yesterday, where he takes a group of disadvantaged lads and builds a cricket team with them. It was hard going in places, and the behaviour of the lads who have had difficult lives was bringing the team down a touch.
Then a teenager called Adnan arrived. He had heard about the team. It turned out Adnan was excellent. He could bowl and bat well, and quietly went about the practice. The other lads began pointing out Adnan’s prowess, and sharpened up, now taking the task at hand seriously. A bit of hope that they might shape up okay began to take root. Adnan had lifted the spirits of all of them.
Where had this wonderful player sprung from? Freddie went to see Adnan’s foster parents. Adnan had come from Afghanistan, where we had played cricket with just one ball and a stick to bat with. He had fled, alone, across Europe. His foster mum explained "Adnan came to us in March, couldn't speak a word of English. What happened was he came in the back of a lorry, made his way across from Afghanistan, down through Greece, from Greece across in a boat to Italy, and then from Italy he walked - went in lorries and cars from right up through Italy, right up into France.”
This young man had gone through unimaginable dangers to escape an existence with little prospects. His simple act of presence, of doing what he loved, had lifted the whole team. And even when he had injured himself before their first game and could only keep wicket and bat, the team were able to claim victory, having been lifted by the presence of this courageous boy.
Many people across the world, living in places of extreme hardship, violence, fear and subjugation, seek to come to these lands in search of a life worth living. We could not take in all that would wish to live here, of course. However, many who do make it here and settle are vilified, seen as ‘unskilled’ people who add nothing to our society. But each person has their gifts. We are all capable of lifting each other up with our passions, our talents, our kindness and caring, our willingness to participate.
Tough times are ahead. Voices will rise who will point to others and accuse them of trying to take what we have. Those voices are not the truth. The truth is that there could be plenty for everyone, were it not for the whisperers behind the voices that seek to divide.
Jesus spoke of the woman who makes bread, uses a small amount of yeast in the dough until all the dough rose. Keeping the yeast out of the dough makes for flat and featureless bread. When we let in the yeast, it transforms the dough, it rises, and the end product is all the more delicious for it."
The Rev'd Fr Benjamin Edwards
Vicar of Great Barton & Thurston