In the fourth of five Thought for the Day reflections on BBC Radio Ulster, the Bishop of Connor revisits the streets of his childhood paper round.
The Rt Rev Alan Abernethy says he is grateful for his memories and for the past which has made him what he is today, but he also acknowledges that he can neither stay in the past, nor go back there. He can only go forward.
Bishop Alan’s reflection was broadcast live on Friday September 28. It is the fourth of five Friday morning Thought for the Day contributions. The Bishop’s final Thought will be broadcast on Friday October 5.
The full text of Bishop Alan’s fourth reflection is as follows:
It is something I have always enjoyed, and as a child and teenager it was a very important part of my life. I was nine–years–old when I became what was known as a paper boy, delivering the morning papers and the evening paper.
This was a wonderful way to get some pocket money and the best part was the Christmas tips. These deliveries took place on the streets between Ravenhill Avenue and Ravenhill Park on the Cregagh Road and my boss was Mrs Cowan who owned the shop at the corner of Titania Street.
My bicycle was essential for me to do this job. This was when there were fewer cars and no cycle helmets and no bright yellow fluorescent jackets.
During the summer, well, in the month of July, I took a trip down memory lane and cycled round those streets passing my primary school, Harding Memorial and the super new building that is Grosvenor Grammar School.
Following the old cycle path I went as far as Comber, passing our first family home in Dundonald. My mind was flooded with memories and of course the people who made up those images.
There was the picture of one delightful old lady who was a widow, and every Saturday evening she gave me a bar of chocolate. There was the house where I was attacked by what I describe as a silly dog. – there was a hole in my paper bag but thankfully no damage to me.
I was also surprised by how everything looked the same and yet so different. Many of those streets are now one–way because every home has a car parked outside and there is no space for passing – when I was delivering papers only a few had cars. My primary school looked so small compared to my memory of what appeared to a child to be a huge place.
I am very grateful for those memories and the past that has made me who I am. However, I cannot stay in the past, I cannot go back but only forward.
In this community we celebrate the past but sometimes we want to stay there and want to go back to how things used to be. My own journey with Jesus has taught me that I can find forgiveness for the past, help to enjoy the present and hope to change the future. I also find strength with His words that He is with us every day, even when we are not aware of it.