19th November 2021

When Keith was working in Geneva he was responsible for the six-yearly Assembly of the Conference of European Churches when delegates from almost all the churches in Europe met in Trondheim (Norway). I went to see Keith and friends but was not a delegate, consequently I had quite a lot of time to kill during the day. As usual I had my embroidery with me. The main foyer of the conference centre had virtually nowhere to sit so I used to sit on the broad stairs leading to the upper floors stitching steadily. It was interesting. When the area was fairly quiet, people (mostly complete strangers) came to talk to me and to sit beside me. The men told me of embroidery done by their wives, mothers etc. The women wanted to discuss the technicalities. They also told what they thought of Trondheim (beautiful) and what they thought of the conference facilities (poor lunches). But then they would talk seriously of their hopes and fears for the conference itself.

By pure accident I had made myself a ‘safe space’ for them. Not another delegate, not allied to a particular group, just a harmless person quietly sewing. I don’t think it would have happened without the embroidery which made me look peaceful and at rest.

This is what coffee shop supplies – a safe space to talk of something or nothing, of trivia or of what really matters. It is so good to be able to get it going again.

P.S. Do you think people came to chat to Paul when he was making tents?

Margaret Clements