Into the veil of tears which is BBC documentary TV, a sparkle of light, laughter, self-sacrifice, helping the poor, genuine cameraderie, joy, benefit to community and unfashionably long robes broke through, last night. As you may guess from the clues, this involved followers of St Francis.
Last night’s programme “Bronx to Bradford” following the lives of 5 friars in Bradford, was beautifully filmed, well edited, and tells a terrific story not only of the friars but indomitable older ladies, the life of an ageing community, a warm view of multifaith community in Britain and homeless people given an opportunity to tell their own story – sadly all this treasure was shoved into a late late late time on a Thursday night (10.45 pm), so many
people will have been denied the chance to see it – but worth catching on BBC i-Player (available for next month) at:
We see the friars happily serving food to the vulnerable (aided by wonderful volunteers), rising pre-dawn to begin the day with prayer, telling their messy life stories, relaxing with some excellent jamming guitars (one jokes: “Shall I sing No Woman, no cry?” – they both laugh). As part of their vow of poverty, they sort through their whole house for things which are superfluous – (St Francis predated minimalism and the Kon Mari method by 800 years) – anything ‘extra’ is set out for the poor to take away – and through it all the thread of that most unfashionable, un21st century emotion: joy. You could have almost equally billed this programme as social reality or comedy, there is so much down-to-earthness and laughter throughout.
This delight and holy glee is part of their time of prayer in the derelict Chapel they are reconstructing and breathing new life into – two of the brothers who previously had a raucous guitar jam session, put their skills to the praise of the Lord and sing/pray into the space: “Let this be a place of light, of welcome…”
“Lord let the poor find a place of the richness of your love here, Lord.”
This is, in the end, a most inviting documentary. Thoroughly worth watching, in my opinion.