Sunday

Edinburgh Fringe Day 18 Part Two "But the greatest of these is charity."

St. Paul's famous quotation from his first letter to the Corinthians is usually translated now as "love" rather than "charity" because charity has come to mean "helping or giving money to those in need." But charity's wider meaning is "love for humanity."

It's long been a special quotation for me (and for a lot of people). Part of it is engraved on my first husband Henry's gravestone.

It's been a day of both sorts of charity. After seeing the fabulous Arthur Smith and being deeply moved by his love for his mother in the midst of his anecdotes, I accidentally came across Nicholson Street, Edinburgh where I found nine charity shops in a row. Nine! Oh joy. I came away an hour later very happy with a blue leather jacket and a replacement for my much-missed denim shirt.

I am going to have to post some clothes home at this rate because my suitcase was already stuffed on the way up.

You may remember the Helpful Heckler of Day 14 ... a guy who appeared to be a little the worse for wear for drink and who was very interested in the laws in the Book of Leviticus. He asked me to write out for him the basis of my comments on those laws from the act, which I did.

Every day since then, he has waylaid me as soon as I have got to Ryrie's (no matter what time of the day it was) with questions and an overwhelming need to talk. He doesn't drink; he just acts as though he does. And he's one of those guys that people try to avoid because he's terribly intense and he doesn't have the antennae that spot when other people aren't interested or want to move away.

Anyway, I thought I'd done him a huge disservice with my writing out of the Leviticus stuff because I had written it to explain the act but he seemed to be taking it as God wishing to punish him for sins he had committed as a child. I'm not going to go into those but I've been trying to say, day after day, that wasn't my intention. That I believe that God just wants us to be happy; He is not there to be a punisher but to help us to learn to love and that what God would want this guy do, to most of all, would be to be true to himself and seek happiness. I haven't been getting the slightest clue that I was getting through to him and I wasn't even sure if I was meant to be doing so. But this man seems to have taken me as his temporary priest, which on the one hand is my job and on the other is a bit challenging because he's a Mormon and I'm not.

At least, he was a Mormon. Today he thrust a six page letter to his Bishop into my hand asking me to read it. I sat down, put on my specs and, with a slightly doubtful heart, began to read.

The Helpful Heckler has resigned from the church he has been in since he was 17 because he has now realised that he wants to have full and loving relationships (and lots of sex) with other men. He's known he was homosexual for a very long time but the church disapproves of it so he hasn't been sexually active. For some strange reason, a comedy act, which at first disturbed and shook him, has been the catalyst for his realising that he has to come out and start living the life that he wants.

I read the letter with a lump in my throat and that extraordinary feeling you get when you realise how responsible you are for every single word that you speak. Pray God this is the right move for him. Right in the middle of the letter he had quoted St. Paul's writings on love as part of his explanation to his Mormon Bishop on how he wanted to experience real love in his life through the love of other men.

Why had he done this? Because I had explained in the act that the Hebrew Testament's condemnation of homosexuality, and St. Paul's views on it had not been about loving one-to-one relationships between men but about male rape and prostitution and ritual humiliation.

The Helpful Heckler gave me two photographs of him as a young man in Red Square, Moscow. I'm not sure why, but he wanted me to have them. I told him as gently that I could that I thought it was an admirable letter and accepted the pictures with as good a grace as I could.

The gig tonight, was very far from my best. The audience were not particularly responsive but it's always hard to tell who has affected who. May not have helped that Elvis was in the audience...

In fact it wasn't the real Elvis (surprise?) but a friend of my FB friend, Hayley who came along tonight with a group of people who are raising funds for Birmingham Children's Hospital and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital by travelling with the amazing Gavin Sandford who is running 45 marathons in 45 days through major cities in the UK. This is a labour of love that Gavin truly wants to do so, keep your eyes peeled for him and his team. You can find out all about it here. If you feel moved to donate, please do.

So it's been a strange day of love and charity.

There's one more line to the Biblical poem which is not quoted on the beautiful sampler above, and that's 'Love will never come to an end.'

I believe that.


1 comment:

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