I only got two items in the post this morning. Both of them unsolicited gifts, one in a large parcel, the other in a small envelope.
The first was from a close friend of my aunt’s, whom I had met for the first time at my parents’ ruby wedding anniversary party. It turns out he works for the Scottish Rugby Union in their referees department. He had some spare kit that is no longer usable by him owing to a change of clothing sponsor, so he sent it to me. In the parcel was an SRU tracksuit, and a couple of pairs of SRU Referees shorts. As someone who recognises that while the right clothing doesn’t make someone an expert (the great sportsmen and women are great despite the kit they use, not because of it) looking the part can give extra confidence it really is a meaningful gift, one that I greatly appreciate as someone who is just starting out as a referee and really hasn’t got huge amounts of money to be splashing out on top level kit. My aunt’s friend didn’t have to send it to me, and I certainly didn’t go angling for it. It was a kind and generous gift that I am grateful for.
However, it is the small envelope that meant most to me. In it was just a Thank You card. It was from the daughter of the woman whose funeral I conducted on Monday afternoon. Whilst the daughter has no particular faith of her own, she was grateful for my visits to the hospital in her mum’s last few days which had brought comfort to her mum, and grateful for my allowing a predecessor to do the address at the funeral. This latter matter had caused some nervousness, which I had eased by acknowledging the request before it had even been made. She didn’t need to thank me in this way. Nor is it a thank you in any great material way. But none of that matters. I did what I did both before after her mum’s death because it is part of what I am called to do. It’s one of the greatest privileges of my role, though never one of the easiest. It is also one of the parts I’m never particularly convinced I’m any good at, which is why the card, an acknowledgement of the help I offered to both mother and daughter, means more than the material donation of my aunt’s friend.
I received two gifts in the post today. One was a material blessing which in the grand scheme of things is much appreciated but not a major contribution to the success or otherwise of my work. The other was a spiritual blessing, a note of thanks that showed that through me God had worked in a difficult situation to bring healing in more than one way. That is a big deal, a huge deal, because when God is seen at work it’s always a big deal. So I thank my benefactor from north of the border for my new tracksuit, but more importantly I thank God that I am able to play just a small part in the working of the Kingdom in this world!
Whoever you have to give thanks to, whether for something big or something small, travel well.