Andrex Men… And Women

Gentle Jesus, meek and mild,
Look upon a little child;
Pity my simplicity,
Suffer me to come to Thee.

I learnt this prayer as a small child. I knew about Jesus; I didn’t understand ‘mice in Plicity’. Where was this place and why should I pity the mice there?

The Andrex advert has had many versions… there’s always the idyllic family… naughty golden Labrador puppy… unravelled toilet roll… that’s tough yet soft, strong yet gentle.

I went to Men’s Shed yesterday. We first opened 6 years ago. It’s the only time in my life I’ve been to a ‘men only’ environment regularly. Conversation is often rude and robust. To the outsider it could appear aggressive and unkind…

Over those 6 years I’ve got to know men who present as tough and strong. As I’ve got to know them I’ve seen, below the surface, there’s a caring tenderness. They don’t always allow themselves to show it but… They’re Andrex men, tough yet soft, strong yet gentle.

Musing… I’ve known many good Andrex women too…

I knew Paul well 20 years ago… a big, strong man…

On Saturday Paul was a tough, aggressive rugby player who played in the front row of the scrum… On Sunday Paul was a caring father, a loving husband, a regular church-goer…

On Monday Paul was one of the gentlest, kindest teachers I ever worked with. Loved by staff and children, he rarely raised his voice… children learnt in a quiet, caring environment.

Paul was… almost certainly still is… an Andrex man.

This morning I read: ‘Look, your king is coming to you. He us righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey…’   (Zechariah 9:9) The prophet was pointing forward to the Messiah who, (I hope my Christian friends won’t be offended) would be the ultimate Andrex man.

And ‘Gentle Jesus meek and mild’? …certainly doesn’t present the complete Andrex picture of tough strength… I discovered this morning it’s a Charles Wesley hymn!

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