A Farewell

Toby’s last service

Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield, 3 June 2018

HolyTSometimes a blog is hard to write. This is one of them.

It should have been easy. All I needed to do was say that this was Toby’s final service with us, say what the service as about and wish him well in his new ministry in Chipping Norton. He will be made deacon at the end of the month in Oxford Cathedral. (This was his last service because next week we have a service in Greenhead Park at 11 am with other churches then the weekend after is our church’s Family Weekend. Then I needed to wish him well in his new venture. This I do.

If only life and church were that simple.

The church when we got there was buzzing. People were talking in the welcome area over the between service coffee: It was quite loud. This is the sort of fellowship a lot of people thing is good for the church. It also makes it an uncomfortable place to have Asperger’s Syndrome. Too much noise is bad for us. At least I could go into the sanctuary and sit. All fine until the service started, then we were asked to greet people at the beginning of the service. When you are not having a good day autism wise that is not a good thing to hear. Enforced fake friendliness is something that can trigger a melt down in  me, I feel it is abusive. I felt abused. I sat where I was, I didn’t take part, I was coping. Sometimes coping is the best you can do.

A little about meltdowns. They look like extreme anger – but they are not anger. They look like the tantrum of a five year old, but far more threatening when it is an adult almost 6 feet tall doing it. But it is totally unlike a tantrum: A tantrum is looking for attention, attention is the last thing I want, my mind is overloaded by too much stimulation at once and I lose control. What I need is solitude, attention makes the matter worse. I have written before about having Asperger’s in church. I stand by what I said.

After the service, after I had drunk my coffee, I waited outside, my wife was on coffee duty. When she was finished there were still people chatting in church. It had obviously been a very good service to a lot in the congregation. As for me it was OK, I coped with it. Going from other people’s reactions it was the sort of service I would have liked to be more involved with. as it was, coping was the best I could do.

The rest of the day; a nap after a large lunch, then jazz at the Grove pub and finally the Britain’s Got Talent finals. The day went well. But tiredness took its toll. After all had been done, after my wife had gone to bed, I had my meltdown: but I also had the solitude to deal with it. Again, this morning (Monday) thinking through yesterday morning’s events, I had a return of the meltdown, again I had the solitude to deal with it. This was a difficult blog to write.

So my apologies to Toby. My Aspie moments tend to overwhelm me. This should have been a celebration of your time here, about your message to our church as you leave us for the different challenges of the leafy lanes of Chipping Norton. I should have been talking about your quiet humour, your musicianship on the drums, (as well as Emma’s on Keyboard,) and the gentle way you expressed your faith. I should have been celebrating, smiling, listening to the sermon and listening to God. Toby, I will remember to pray for you every time I see the musicians rota come out with yours and Emma’s names missing. I know that God will bless you in your new place.


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