This is my brief tribute to Graham Ingram, a man that meant a lot to me, who not only taught me The Bible, but also about life.
Even as I write, 'meant a lot to me', one would expect we were friends. I called him a friend, although I am not altogether sure he would have called me one - I would like to think he did.
He was eccentric and quirky, incredibly knowledgeable and a great Bible teacher....and I won't beat about the bush, he could also be brusque. Yet, from when I first met him, in a Church History Course at Bible School, I developed a soft spot and a real affection for him, and this only grew over time, as he challenged me (in a way that only Graham could!) to know and understand why I believe what I believe, and not just take what was 'dished out'.
He could get distracted during lectures, wandering into little sub-topics, but I was never bored or frustrated, because he was so interesting and his experiences added something personal to a lecture. I remember he joined us and my folks for dinner one evening at our home, and he kept us all highly entertained with stories about his life and experiences around the world.
I remember that during the time of these courses, I bumped into him at Pick 'n Pay, I went up to him and greeted him and asked him how he was, and he barely looked at me, muttered something, and walked right on. I was devastated. What had I done to offend him so badly? This worried me the entire week until our next lecture, and I asked him, to which he just bluntly replied that I had not offended him, but he didn't like shopping and didn't want to chat. I was relieved. Honesty, is always best in my book, and I cannot tell you how much I actually identify with his sentiment!
But that was my first encounter with the brusque Graham. There were more, and one even left me in tears and wondering why I pursued this relationship, but in my heart was this soft spot that refused to harden...and over the years there were glimpses of friendship between us, that made these abrupt moments worth it.
There are a few interactions that I will never forget:
- I invited him to come along with my mom and I to hear Philip Yancey speaking. I remember feeling a bit nervous because frankly, I felt a bit intimidated by Graham too. However, it was a really easy and memorable evening and I felt that he enjoyed it too.
- He was always at the gym. Usually he would just acknowledge me with a hello-look, but the one day, he actually came up to me and engaged in a conversation that probably lasted close to 30min, and it wasn't a superficial one - or I wouldn't remember it.
- Another was at his house, I used to pop up there from time to time to give him a hand with PC related things, and usually the conversation was very much kept to what needed to be done and instructions, with the odd courtesy conversation. Once or twice I tried to talk to him about cricket, because in my mind anyone that was from England MUST love cricket. Didn't usually work, (and I have found the same about Indians - they don't all watch cricket either!) :) But one day, out of the blue we just talked... like real friends.
- Then most recently. We had (I think), already moved over here, and we were down visiting. We were having supper at the Ocean Basket and I saw him sitting and eating there. I excused myself from the table to go and say hello. I told my family that I would just be a second, because the chances are that he would look at me, say hello, and continue eating. When he greeted me by name and invited me to sit down, I was stunned. I honestly even forgot my family and had a lovely chat with him. I am so happy that that was my last interaction with him.
Graham, I know I cannot say that I knew you well, or probably even a little, but after reading your book all those years ago, I wonder if perhaps you were afraid of truly being known for fear of being hurt. But I hope you knew how fond I was of you, how much I admired and respected you, for the walk you walked, and your desire to please God no matter what. I feel honoured to have been able to walk some of your journey with you. Usually dragging behind - but occasionally, alongside you as a friend.
When I heard you had passed on. Part of me was sad, but the other part was thankful that now you can truly be with the One who you so passionately pursued, and for whom you sacrificed so much.
So you've truly stepped Out of the Shadows... and into His wonderful light.