Monday, July 20, 2015

A long gray beard and a turban in the Sikh tradition.

Mr. Singh.

...I have just had a curry with Mr. Singh. 
I don't think I have told you about Mr Singh. 

Seven years ago a man came into the dining room at Romford YMCA and sat on his own. 
He was an old looking man with a long gray beard and a turban in the Sikh tradition. 
Like I do, I paused as I passed and greeted him as I did on successive evenings. 
Each time a longer exchange until I felt it ok for his comfort that I sat with him and conversed. 
It was then a regular opportunity to talk with this great man. 
Eventually others spoke to him and he then went on in developing relationships until he travelled on a week-end adventure with residents and staff to the distant land of Scotland. 
He made glass models and fire sculptures and built respectful relationships with others from the horrific troubles of Kosova, other refugees - and even the local jack-the-lads and girls.

Everyone got to know Mr Singh and loved his warmth wisdom and stability. 
One day I was walking through the YMCA and a young man waved at me as I walked by. 
I stepped on my journey for a moment or two and then I realized that this younger man was Mr Singh! 
He had no beard. 
He had no turban.

All the talk in our busy bustling community was about Mr Singh. 
"He is not Mr Singh anymore" was the outcry. 
It became the talk of the YMCA our village and an adjustment from many as they had not seen the man behind the big beard and the big turban.

Talking with him, having dinner with him, he told me he had done it because he believed that God looked on the inside not the outside. 
He believed that faith was an inside job and this act was one of faith.

One evening later I was sat with him for dinner at the Y and he got to his feet and helped sean with his tray of food. 
Sean was a schoolteacher and blind. 
He came into the YMCA with his guide dog and Mr Singh, with others, always helped Sean with that last lap of getting grub to the table ....... and getting him a cup of tea to follow at the end of dinner. 
After a while - Mr Singh got up and left. 
I said to Sean 'what do you think of Mr Singh shaving his beard off?’ 
He said 
'I didn't know he had a beard.'

What a fantastic thought. 
He knew Mr Singh for his warmth and kindness and generosity. 
We, the rest of us, were disabled by the ability to see the man like that !
Wow I think, how important it is to see the person below the surface and not the outer. 
I think that is a fab fab story.

About six months ago, MrsBeautiful, Joy myself and Mr Singh were at the back of our church in Romford as the Vicar Stephen baptised him around the font. 
This was followed a couple of weeks later by a Confirmation by the Bishop. 
Coffee Costa was the venue for a long chat followed that baptism. 
Some of his photos can be found in my SLIDESHOW above. 

I could go on, but just one last bit of many additions to the story. 
It was …………… Christmas and Mr Singh didn't appear in church so I gave him his Christmas present later. 
He then shared that six days before Christmas he sat with his Mother in hospital, night and day until she died on Christmas Eve. 
He told us that two minutes before she died, she placed her hands together like Mother Teresa and she died.

Tonight he told me all about the funeral at the home, the Sikh temple 
('They know I am a Christian' he said) and then back to the family home. 
I feel a deep sense of wonder with him, for him, about him. 
He knows I tell people about him. 
He stands humble and wonder-full. 
Hope you don't mind me sharing part of his story - he gave me permission to share it with you.

Pip Wilson 
January 2004.