Have you ever looked up at the sky?
It seems a strange question but it’s one that I’ve had good cause to ponder in my time.
I’ve spent a large portion of my time working in the realm of car parking, airport parking to be precise. My days were spent meeting excited and anxious holiday makers who had booked parking in Liverpool Airport, and it was my job to transfer them to a shuttle and then park their car in the multi-storey. I know that many people spend their working days inside office buildings or warehouses, toiling under fluorescent strip lighting, but I felt that job had particularly depressive connotations. Every day I would be a small feature in another person’s day, a little cog in the machine that would take them from their humdrum lives to a far flung destination.
Although I met different people and drove different cars every day every day, my days felt monotonous and routine. I spent three years with the smell of damp concrete and petrol in my nose, making hundreds of little journeys in hundreds of different vehicles. I travelled hundreds of miles, but I barely moved at all. The winter days were arguably the most difficult to deal with. On those cold early morning starts I would shuffle into work during the dead of night and by the time that I was ready to leave the multi-storey the sun had already dipped below the horizon once more. My days were perpetual nights and the car park was such a familiar sight to me that I even visited it during my dreams.
When such a large portion of your life is spent in one grey dark space, you find that the parts are enriched in so many other ways. Those days were difficult, but they made me appreciate the bright blue of the sky and the regular church meetings all the more. A simple trip to the supermarket, although lit by strip lighting, became an odyssey of colour and smells. Trips to the seaside were almost religious in their awe-inspiring sensory overloading nature. Looking up to the sky, I’d be transported far from my life and felt the true all-encompassing love of God. Those days were not so bad when I look back at them now.
After three years serving the airport car park in Liverpool, I was offered a job in Portsmouth managing a car park of my own. The change was a big one, but one that I was all too happy to embrace. I sold up my home, packed up my belongings and made the move, but not before I was given a letter of recommendation from my church pastor in Liverpool. He’d found a new congregation for me to join and the letter was to be my ticket to a safe spiritual passage, although I never had the chance to use it.
The car park that I was now in charge of was open-air. This hadn’t been mentioned in the job description and I remember smiling when I pulled up on my first day. Now, every day was spent underneath the fantastic blue sky and my connection to God was closer than it had ever been before. The world had become my church.