It arrived in our churchyard, unannounced early one morning. A pale green shipping container, far from new but in pretty good shape.
But not exactly pretty. Placed at an odd angle behind the mulberry tree, its industrial bulk contrasted with the two heritage buildings on site: a church by the Blackett architects, father and sons, and a pretty house by Horbury Hunt.
It might have been a protest by the radical wing of the Anglican Church League (the lobby group that keeps us all in line) using street theatre to make the point that old pretty buildings can serve to restrict the gospel and that plain ones might do better. But the last time I looked the ACL lacked a fringe group of hippies well versed in Dadaist improvisational art.
No, this pewsitter could guess where it had come from. Parish Council had just started discussing new plans for the property – and a fellow pewsitter whom I will call Fred had offered to get a container if a good one came his way. It had. A snip at $250 I later learnt.
The problem was that plonking a steel box just next to the morning tea area wasn’t the gentlest way to tell the congregation about building work. Or to give them the impression that we wanted their input and were not rushing ahead without asking them for it.
“At least it is not painted orange,” I told my fellow Wardens (we are meant to look after the property) as we waited for the comments to pour in.
“It’s not staying, is it?’ “Why did you put it there?” And from a canny staff member, “People are starting to put things in it – be careful or you will never be able to get rid of it.”
All of which were true, of course.
Fred had a point too. Our green box was handy. Plus I found out that Fred, having filled a number of sheds and rooms with church stuff (such as a complete set of billy carts for the kids) had been forced to reclaim some space.
Everybody had a point. About then I started to call it “the container of grace”. That steel box was a challenge – to bring good out of what could be a tetchy situation.
Right now, it is still there. It is pretty full I am told (I am too much of a coward to look), full of the stuff the kids take on the mission to a country town each year. It is still making the point about simple “rain shelters” versus prissy buildings made of sandstock bricks.
Looks like a shed will be one of our next projects. Fred sidled up to me the other night with the news that the container has been offered a free trip to Tanzania.