I'd like to tell you a little story. Are you sitting comfortably?
Once upon a time, a new youth worker travelled many miles to a place called High Leigh to join with other youth workers. They journeyed there for a conference which was called Matrix.
The new youth worker spent many happy hours learning about youth work and meeting exciting new people during the day and in the evenings she and her friends talked for hours, getting to know each other better and better. It was a happy time.
While they were there, the people organising the conference ran a contest. They asked all the youth workers in the land (well all those who were there!) to tell them about any mistakes that had been made during the conference and offered as trophies two piggy banks. Now many youth workers endured trials to reach the box in which these comments were stored and the new young youth worker was one of these. She went on a long search and finally found these so called piggy banks to discover a great mystery.
They were not in fact piggy banks at all but two money boxes one shaped like a cow and the other like a bear. In a moment of pure inspired imagination she wrote these words and placed them in the box for answers.
The dawn of the last day came, crisp and frosty and as the last sessions finished, the youth workers gathered in the great hall for the final farewells. Before that great company of youth workers, the host announced that the time had come to announce the winners of the contest. First, the cow was awarded to someone who had made a very witty comment and then a hush descended on the room as the second winner was announced. The winning comment was:
The greatest mistake was in this competition because you said we could win a piggy bank but in fact they’re a cow and a bear
The new youth worker stood up to face all her fellow youth workers and the bear was launched into the air and flew towards her. Had she been one of those sporty youth work types she would probably have caught the bear but the poor little bear was fated to be won by a less than spatially aware youth worker and so plummeted to the floor and bounced pathetically on the hard floor. Yet soon the new youth worker swept the bear up in her arms and all was well.
The bear travelled home with the new youth worker in her battered black carriage and as she journey an idea grew and the bear received his name.
“I shall call him prayer bear”, said the new youth worker, “and young people will write their prayers on paper and place them in the bear and the bear will keep those prayers close to his heart.” She wasn’t sure but she thought she saw the little plastic bear smile.
And so it was that Prayer Bear was named.
And Prayer Bear came to meet all the young people at a place called Pulse. He had a special place, just for him with his own sign. Quietly, young people would come and would write their prayers on little pieces of paper and they would give them to Prayer Bear and he would keep them by his heart.
So life went on happily for Prayer Bear. When he wasn’t at Pulse he lived on a shelf where the new youth worker lived with a lovely view of trees and sky.
Then one day at Pulse, some of the young boys had a naughty thought. They thought, “what if we hide Prayer Bear? We could hold him to ransom.” And so the boys hid Prayer Bear behind a curtain and left a note for the new youth worker demanding the purchase of certain Play Station games “or Prayer Bear gets it!”
Now the new youth worker knew that these boys were not bad. In fact she thought it was slightly amusing that one of them had somehow smuggled Prayer Bear out of the building and waited to see what they would do next.
She didn’t know that Prayer Bear was hidden. She didn’t know that Prayer Bear was so near. She didn’t know.
Prayer Bear was a little confused. He still had a view of sky, though the trees were different. He couldn’t see the new youth worker any more, as she sat at her desk. He was a little cold right by the window but he was happy enough.
Then one day, someone saw him there, behind the curtain and took him away to a new place but where he went, we do not know.
When the new youth worker saw the young boys next she smiled and she asked them where Prayer Bear was. They grinned and went to the place where they had hidden Prayer Bear but he was gone. They looked shocked and although she thought, at first, that they were kidding, she soon realised that they really had thought Prayer Bear would be there. The new youth worker was sad but knew there was little she could do. She only hoped that Prayer Bear found a good home and that, maybe, one day he would return.
Years passed and Prayer Bear was still absent and the new youth worker began to be the not so new youth worker. The time approached when she would again travel many miles to a place called High Leigh and her thoughts turned to Prayer Bear. She thought, “I believe he must be having some marvellous adventures somewhere but perhaps he has a brother out there somewhere?”
And so the not so new youth worker began her quest. She searched the Internet for moneyboxes. She scoured the web for bears. Yet nowhere could she find an image of Prayer Bear or the chance of finding one of his siblings. She was very sad.
Then inspiration struck once again. She decided to look not for Prayer Bear but for the friend he had been separated from at that place called High Leigh. So she began to search for the cow. She scrolled through images of cow moneyboxes on the Internet and saw many bovine novelties. Then at last, she saw a face she hadn’t seen in many months. There was the cow she had seen at that place called High Leigh. The cow lived with some people called the Strawberry group. She followed the trail to the cow and there, right there on the screen, was the twin brother of Prayer Bear.
And so the not so new youth worker sent word to these people called the Strawberry Group, that she would like to invite Prayer Bear’s brother to come and live where his brother had lived. Then she waited expectantly for the day that Prayer Bear II would arrive.