One of the last Steam locomotives in Ireland, 1969. John was a highly respected Irish railway modeller.
My brother Dick and his wife Jane produce bespoke dolls’ house furniture; even casting detailed handles and taps for their miniature cookers and bathrooms. You can admire their work on hearthandhomeminiatures.com . The urge to create a world we can control is widespread: a friend, John Byrne, built model railways, each representing a particular era, with trains and buildings in authentic colours, and period advertisements.
Real life is more like the shared story-telling game Dick and I used to play, which I think of as ‘and then’. Turns began with ‘and then …’ the prelude to a new misadventure for the protagonist, represented by a cuddly toy; maybe even a train crash.
Thank God that real railway safety is less and less affected by human error.
Behind this rambling is the bigger question, why do things go wrong? Why do humans err? If there is a God, why doesn’t he step in to prevent it?
Did he step in to save the life of Saint Pancras? No he didn’t, but yes he did: hence the title, ‘Saint’. Did God make a universe to run smoothly as one of John’s trains, forever pristine like Dick and Jane’s stoves? Are we akin to John’s plastic people, powerless to stop ourselves being manipulated by our creator?
The care that modellers focus on their work is a clue to how Creator God works. Our DNA is infinitely more detailed than John’s fictional layouts, labours of love as they were, and we occupy one small planet in one corner of the universe, but here we are. And just as the models can tell a story about John, so can we about our creator, who not only left his fingerprints all over the world he made, but humbled himself to live and die as one of us, experiencing and loving his creation more intimately than John or Dick and Jane ever could.