There’s a woman waiting in the doorway of the Amnesty bookshop. At first I think she’s queuing so, obediently, I stand myself and my son a good metre or so back from her.
When she realises, she ushers me past saying ‘I’m just waiting to ask a query’.
Then I hear her query.
That, along with the short conversation that follows, warms my heart, makes me think there is hope.
‘Have you got any of those ‘Refugees Welcome!’ badges? I’ve seen people wearing them and I wanted to get a few.’
‘No, sorry, we’re clean out of them.’
Clean out of badges (and bags too, as it turned out he’d misheard her) declaring that we want to provide a safe space for those who are fleeing disaster, rather than turning them away and hugging our possessions tightly around ourselves like protective padding.
He starts rummaging in a basket ‘We have some ‘Football Welcomes Refugees’ ones if that’s any good? There was a campaign for that...’
As he talks, I feel a spark of joy.
I know some people differ in their opinions on this.
I know that some will call me naïve.
I know that ‘we have enough problems of our own.’
I even know that not everyone who asks for help is genuine.
But many are. Many many are.
And I’d like to think that if the tables were turned and I needed refuge (because, let’s face it, we all just got lucky to be born where we were, in relative freedom and safety) there would be a welcome somewhere for me.
‘I was a stranger and you welcomed me’ (Matthew 25:35 ESV)