When I was a child I enjoyed reading Biggles books by Capt WE Johns. Such was that enjoyment, over the years I have bought and read 89 of the 98 stories penned about the heroic airman. In recent times, I have also come across other works by the same author: stories about Gimlet and Worrals.
Another childhood delight were Anthony Buckeridge’s books about Jennings. Now owning all 24 stories and having read each of them five or six times, they, like Biggles, make good bedtime reading.
So imagine my surprise when I find that Buckeridge also wrote about another schoolboy miscreant, Rex Milligan. Just four of them and I am now on my second.
As a writer myself, I liked the different style Buckeridge adopted but the scrapes his characters get into are familiar. Reading happily one night, suddenly the story didn’t make sense. I read and re-read the same bit but no, something was wrong. It was confusing.
Looking down I’d moved from page 32 to page 97. Turning on to find the missing leaves, I got to page 128 – which was followed by page 65… Then on to 97 (again) and finally to the end (158). It wasn’t as if the book was falling apart: but with 32 pages missing, a big chunk of the story would never be known.
It’s a bit like that with people, isn’t it? Everyone has a story to tell but with many, if not most, we know but a fraction of it. There are many missing pages.
When Boris Johnson got in a mess with his own pages, it was a journalist who asked the simple question: ‘Is everything OK?’ Because clearly it wasn’t. After all, here’s a man not long married, a new baby, recently lost his mum and, oh yes, he’s Prime Minister too. A forlorn figure unable to publicly admit to any difficulties for fear of appearing weak.
We’ve all met people whose hidden stories are revealed in different ways. The angry. The quiet. The arrogant. The joker. There are always missing pages. A chunk which may never be known.
Like you, I imagine, there have been many times when I have had the enormous privilege (and relief, on occasion) when someone discloses what’s written on their missing pages. To admit that everything is not OK.
But like me too, there may have been times when your own hidden story comes out in an unfortunate manner. Irritability. Rudeness. Sarcasm. Anger.
There will always be hidden stories. And Jesus was a great one for reading them. But when he did so, he came not to ridicule, condemn or criticise but to help, heal and make whole.
You may like to look at these stories that Jesus read:
All of them, like all of us, with hidden stories and missing pages.
All of them, like all of us, not to be ridiculed, condemned or criticised but helped, healed and made whole.
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