Pedestrian crossings perform a semi-responsive automated sequence day in, day out. When the traffic light is green, the red man stands guard to hold pedestrians at the kerbside. When the traffic light turns red, the red man goes off shift while the green man steps out, encouraging walkers to cross to the other side of the road.
Something has gone wrong with one of the pedestrian crossings I use every day. The green man has gone missing. Had the bulb gone, there would be no green man, but there would be no red man when the green man should be on duty: then, both lights would be off. But this is not what has happened here. The red man stands on permanent guard, as if he were instead a red alpha monkey who has chased off the green pretender to his throne. And so the pedestrian is faced with a disruption to the familiar: the red traffic light and red pedestrian light shining simultaneously.
Navigating this pass several times each day, I find myself calling across the road to confused pedestrians opposite that it is safe to cross.
I live with a life-long condition with the pretty name dyspraxia. Essentially this means that I am not ‘neurologically typical’, or that, for whatever reason, the neurological connections within my brain have not joined up along the tried-and-tested routes of the majority of brains. Things are messier inside my head. Information regularly travels along a pathway, only to get stuck; either needing to take a longer route round, or getting lost entirely.
For example, recently I was leading Morning Prayer, which concludes with the doxology ‘May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all, evermore. Amen.’ These are words I say with others every day. But on that particular morning, I couldn’t bring them out. I could access neither the words nor their sequence, and after three failed attempts I gave up. I regularly ask my wife ‘Do you happen to know…’ – to which she replies, ‘…when you might finish your sentence? No. Sorry.’ – or go to pass on information to one colleague, only to lose the name of the other colleague I want to refer to.
Other people wait – those who aren’t familiar, with confusion – and, indeed, I have no choice but to wait for myself. But in the waiting, God is…
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