We’ve all heard of this expression and many of you will also be familiar with the story about the man with a noisy house full of kids.

Off he went to the Wiseman who encouraged him to bring a hen and a goat and finally a donkey into the house with his kids. By the end he was going mad and so when the Wiseman asked him to remove the animals, the house with the kids seemed quiet and serene!

Such was my experience of Manchester. We stayed in a hotel room with no window which was hot and stuffy and uncomfortable, the hotel smelled of weed, the staff not so helpful and the other guests seemed mainly like English soccer hooligans.

My first cafe experience was of cafe Nero where I had the unfortunate experience of using the toilet before checking for toilet paper! While my stay in India many years ago had prepared me for such eventualities, it wasn’t then nor was it in Manchester what I’d call a pleasant experience. You get the picture!

The city centre seemed overcrowded with people and sadly there were a lot of homeless people and addicts on the streets often shouting and making quite a bit of noise making one feel unsafe and slightly on edge.

There was no catholic church in the area where we were staying either meaning that I couldn’t even escape there to spend some time with Jesus except of course on Saturday morning.

All that to say that coming back to Notting Hill seemed like coming back to heaven. Having a bedroom with a window, something we’d totally take for granted, amazing!! Listening to the rain this morning, amazing, not meeting hooligans on the corridor, amazing….in fact everything seemed amazing on returning!!

And yet the experience that touched me the most was going to pray before the blessed sacrament at 9PM in the church. As I looked at Jesus i felt Him smiling on me with delight to see me like a little child who hadn’t seen his daddy for two days. It brought me to tears as I pondered on how Jesus literally waits there for visitors and is utterly delighted when we come.

It’s easy to think of Him as God who is all independent and in need of nothing but God made Himself human and made Himself vulnerable and small and Jesus literally suffers and cries as He waits for us to visit Him and console Him with our prayers and as we allow Him to love us. He thirsts to pour out His love on people the same way as a billionaire might want to bless all his family with lavish gifts.

What a blessing I thought to be living in a church where I have access to Jesus at any time and where each evening I can have private adoration.

What a blessing to be in an area with so many churches and priests and masses within walking distance.

What a blessing to be in a friendly area where there are many nice people and friendly familiar faces and where we are well known and liked by many.

Even the puregym in Manchester seemed dead and lifeless in comparison to the buzz of Bayswater and the friendly staff.

And so as I reflect on my Manchester experience I give thanks to God for the very many blessings that I have here in London and I pray for all those people today who sleep in bedrooms without windows, who live in dangerous areas, who have little access to the church and the sacraments and who are finding it hard to cope with life.

I thank God for the good family that I grew up in, the loving parents, the safe area and I repent of all the times that I did not appreciate what I had and instead compared, criticised and complained.

So thank you Jesus for every blessing in our lives and help us to be grateful for what we have and to carry our burdens and crosses with patience and love and without grumbling!

This picture is worth another look as I think we can all identify with this old guy at times!

Thanks for reading and may God bless your day and family.

Michael