The checkout assistant waited whilst I rummaged through my handbag for my purse. Not surly, gum-chewing impatience, just a quiet, all-the-time-in-the-world patience. As I inserted the credit card in the machine she said ‘You do like butterflies and turquoise don’t you?’ It hadn't even occurred to me that I was all matchy, matchy and I was genuinely impressed with her attentiveness and observation.
This weekend just gone we visited our son and daughter in law for the last time before they move south, taking them and our grandchild-to-be an extra 2.5 hours away. I have mixed feelings about them being so far away but I know they have heard and prayed about the God-whispers calling them into a new chapter of their lives. (And should you southerners not look after our grandchild there will be wigs on the green.)
We attended morning service at the church where D has been working for the past few years. We have been there a few times before and in different contexts. The prompt to recount these things is strong. It feels good to be thankful, but I know in tiredness, vulnerability, and motorway traffic jams, gratefulness will easily evaporate.
26 years ago we attended just the one service in the same church when D was a baby himself. We stayed with the minister and his wife. She observed me with him and suggested I might have depression. She was the first person to ever mention it. Then I had no idea, but now I am grateful to her more than she will know. Young motherhood was one of those pressure points which made the depression rise to the surface. It is not until much more recently that I have accepted depression as part of who I am, not just another sorry episode of failure (except during the tired and vulnerable moments.)
Thankful she noticed.
Much more recently we went to another service at the church as a family, a rare free Sunday when we could all be in the same place with all our grown up children. The speaker was talking about times when money was tight for him and his family, when their children were growing up. Hand-me-down and severely price-slashed winter coats, familiar to ours in the years when we were still a clergy family.
At the end of the service D turned to me and said to me ‘You gave up a lot so you could spend time with us when we were little and we always had everything we needed’ (Rough translation ‘almighty cock ups notwithstanding I think you did an alright job’ - I’ll take the compliment). I know that whichever way motherhood had been done, stay at home or working, the way would have been littered with mistakes on all sides.
Thankful he noticed.
And on Sunday just gone within those same old stone walls we sang these words:
You are my rock in times of trouble
You lift me up when I fall down
All through the storm, Your love is the anchor
My hope is in You alone
I was overwhelmed with thankfulness at what God has done with, for and through us over the years. In spite of all of us really.
Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer saying “Thus far the Lord has helped us” 1 Samuel 7:12
This morning as I left for work a butterfly was gently flexing its wings on the wall by the front door. And then in the revoltingly overcrowded, standing room only train my nose was pressed up against the blouse of the woman in front (unobtrusive evidence and truly honestly not a selfie)