vestryview

A view backstage at Beverley Minster

Moral dilemmas need firm resolutions

I’m a happy chappy. Everyone who sees me says so.
Actually, that’s not true – it has been alleged that sometimes I look a bit miserable and don’t smile at strangers.
In fact one person once told me that someone had told them that I had been a tiny bit snappy with someone else. But when I found out there were no witnesses to this I dismissed the claim with the contempt it deserved.
You must realise that, underneath everything I’m normally feeling pretty calm and contented, if not positively happy – and why not?
This year has started well – we’ve already taken more money from roof tours so far than we did in the entire month of January last year and we’ve had our trusty Henrys uprooting spiders webs that hadn’t been disturbed this millennium. People are still tending to behave well and praise us when they come through our doors and I’ve been promised a pay rise.  
I admit there used to be one aspect of my job that left me just a tiny, teeny bit peeved, but I’m over that now.
It was all to do with the kneelers or, to be more precise, some of the people who use them. Let me explain.
Kneelers are the rectangular cushions that can be used by the congregation during prayers. We have some 400 of these in the nave and until last year they just lay on the floor like so many slabs of dead meat.
As such they were a nuisance. Firstly, they got in the way of our trusty Henrys when we were cleaning the carpeting; secondly, they were always getting knocked and we were constantly straightening them to keep the place looking neat; thirdly, bending down to lift just one of them made me wheeze – and that was a major problem.
You see, every week the virgers move five rows of pews to make a safe area for young children during the morning service – which involves shifting 30 kneelers. Once a month we also move three rows on the other side of the nave to accommodate the music group, carrying a further 18 of the blessed things.
Mathematicians among you will realise this is an irritating 12 per cent of the total that is being moved for just one hour a week, before being moved back again. The repeated compression of my diaphragm during this simple pilates could led to spots in front of my eyes that lasted five minutes or more.
As a bonus we also turn all chairs in the nave round twice a year for the East Yorkshire County Choir concerts, then reverse them again before we go home afterwards. I’d be screaming for oxygen at the end of it.
So last year we virgers decided to attach the kneelers to the chairs by a simple hook. Now, when we move the pews the red cushions come with them in one sweeping operation. The Minster looks neater, the lightness of the flooring is emphasised and it’s so much easier and quicker to clean the carpets.
The problem comes when worshippers actually use the kneelers – because some people never put them back.
Now this used to really bug me – it felt as if people were thinking: “Oh, I’m too important to do that – someone inferior can tidy up after me,” and I could feel myself bristling at their rudeness.
And then I realised that many of these people really couldn’t do it for themselves. The kneelers were too heavy, or they couldn’t manipulate a ring over a hook on the back of the chair. It wasn’t that they were being rude, they were just weaker or less dextrous than me and I should be grateful for my abilities compared to them.
So now I bless them, think of Romans Chapter 12, verses 16 onwards, and smile. Everyone says how much happier I look now.
And next week I’ll tell you what makes my boss angry.
 
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