They didn’t have to take me into their home back in 2002 but they did. I was about 23yrs old and had just completed a degree in environmental chemistry, a couple of volunteer years to get away from the environmental chemistry degree which I hated and I was a little lost, or to be honest, I was a lot more than a little lost.
When after a week or so of moving into their home there was terrible news from a MRI scan and a major operation needed I fully expected to have to move out, to find somewhere else to live to allow them space at this difficult time.
Yet, that never happened.
Grace was shown to me by this couple (and family) at a time when I fully expected to pack my bags.
Now that I am a little bit older and a ministers spouse in a manse I am amazed at that decision to let someone like me stay in their home, especially maybe someone like me with my household habits and ability to eat breakfast cereals.
I like my space, I don’t want to be around people. If someone comes to stay for more than a few days I get cranky.
More than that, if I get sick my immediate reaction is to avoid people.
So to have welcomed me into their home as they did in such difficult circumstances humbles and surprises me. That is grace in action, not just preached.
I was remembering things like this over the weekend after having a service of thanksgiving for the lives of T + C in my old church as he retires after over 30yrs in one congregation and community.It has been one long weekend of reflection, memories and surprises.
It was the old faces I haven’t seen for 10 or more years who seemed delighted to see me again.
It was the kids I used to interact with in Sunday school when I ‘taught’ them. They would have been 9-10yrs old back then and now they are young men and women with boyfriends.There where kids I didn’t remember so well who remembered me.
It was other memories and things as well too personal or small to type out on a blog. In a way it has brought out my melancholic side because although it was an occasion of joyfulness and thanksgiving it also made me remember how much I miss my old church and the people there.
It also made me think about how much of my past life I have forgotten, the way I need to re-remember real experiences in my life again.Not so I can be nostalgic about them but so I can get my bearings again, that I can remember the roots of my past and see that God has been faithful to me despite my best efforts to stuff everything up.
I was reading and re-reading a page of Jacques Ellul today because it fascinates me and seems true in a world of Twitter feeds and hyperlinks. I’ve spent so much time obsessing on the shadows at the expense of the ‘little personal experiences’. I want to remember the excellence of the plums and the kindness and grace shown to me by people like T + C and not get obsessed with the shadows, because the shadows can suck the life out of you like the Ringwraiths do in Lord of the Rings.
‘..everyday day he [man] learns a thousand things from his newspaper and his wireless, and very important, very sensational things. Can he help it, that his little personal experiences, which deal, perhaps, with the excellence of a plum or of a razor blade, are drowned in this flood of important illusions concerning the atomic bomb, the fate of Germany, strikes and the like. …modern man, submerged by this flood of images which he cannot verify, is utterly unable to master them. They are not co-ordinated, for news succeeds new without ceasing. For instance, in the columns of the newspaper he will read one day about an affair which quickly disappears from the paper, and also from the brain of the reader. It is replaced by others; it is forgotten. A man gets used to living like this, without a present and without a past. He gets used to living in a complete incoherence, because all his intellectual activity is taken up with these fugitive visions, themselves without a past and without a future, and without any substance even in the present.’