It’s my turn.
I venture into the damp near darkness to feed Scruffy and Fluffy. I wander out towards the hutch not aware of the drama to unfold. Something is not right. No squeaks. No eager welcome. I take a closer look...the hutch is wide open. Empty. A quick glance through the fading light shows that the run on the grass too is empty. A reminiscence of emotion hits me.
Two years ago I forgot to put Benny the Bunny back in the hutch. Two years ago Benny the Bunny disappeared – official line 'he’s gone on an adventure' , truth - Mr Fox paid a visit. Two years ago Bethan discovered a grief inside her that she didn’t know. Two years ago I was the worst Dad. It was my fault. A double, triple check of the hutch, run … empty. My gut lurches....
Hang on I didn’t get them out, it wasn’t me. Relieved of the weight of responsibility I grab a torch and start hunting the nooks and crannies of the garden for our emerged guinea pigs. "Dad what are you doing…!?" Rumbled. But it wasn’t me. "Sweetheart I think we need to look for Scruffy and Fluffy seems they have got out". The memory of Benny sweeps in and Beth disintegrates.
The search intensifies - it wasn’t me. Everywhere double checked, the hutch inside and out. The emerged guinea pigs nowhere to be seen, gone. The search is called off. Tears flow. We ring Kate and break the news. "Oh no… I left them out last night…"
Dinner was quiet. Mouthfuls interspersed with sniffs as we imagine fluffy and scruffy shivering together somewhere in the dark. Kate arrives, rushes past me muttering "I just feel dreadful…my fault…forgot…" and is straight into resuming the search. Bethan and I are 'searched out' so just stand at the back door.
Kate shines the torch in the hutch. She looks. She looks at me with a strange look on her face. She points at the hutch without taking her eye off me. "…and what are they…?" Our brave emerged guinea pigs were remarkably calm re-submerged in the sawdust and hay they knew so well. Safe.
There are many mysteries in life. The adventure of Fluffy and Scruffy will always remain so for Bethan and I. Please believe me when I say those guinea pigs were well and truly emerged. They’d left the institutional hutch. They were free. But in their freedom, their emergence their visibility was only to each other, in reality they were invisible – nowhere to be seen. Honest!
Another mystery how can a church be defined emerged if it can not be seen? Whatever happens with the emerging church if it is not visible it may as well just jump back in the hutch where it can be seen. An emerging church that can't be seen to me seems an oxymoron.
Institutional and visible // un-institutional and invisible ... now there’s a conundrum.
Maybe that is unfair, however the emerging church - I think - has to work hard on visibility outwards to those not bothered about am-bi-ence but who simply want help. What do the desperate, the fragmented the broken do? Where do they go? What do they look up in the phone book? an unintelligible franchise of church? or good old 'St Mark's? a new brand or simply The Salvation Army?
Ask the guy who wrote to 'The Salvation Army - Poplar' - "I'm so lonely can you visit me....?"