Mark 4:26-29 He also said, ‘The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.’
This past spring John and I were on a 6½ week pilgrimage of sorts. Unfortunately 2 hours before we were to be picked up by Shuttle Express I fell in my office and tore or badly bruised the calf muscle of my left leg and also I refused to go to the emergency room because we would have missed our flight. Well, along with back issues, that fall meant I spent our holiday with a cane and walking as if I was 250 years old.
The fall and my, seemingly forever back problems, meant modifying some of our activities and learning to depend on the graciousness of people in New Zealand and on board our cruise ship.. I was helped by strangers I would never see again to walk up hills, across sand dunes, into cars, buses, and boats. All they asked for was a simple thank you and a smile. I cannot begin to express my gratitude to these angels in disguise. They made our visit to NZ and back to the states a trip of a life time.
Now many of you may also have noticed that I often have a motor mouth (in the case of blogging, motor writing) and when I offer thanks to someone I will chatter on nervously for 10 minutes. It took 6½ weeks for me to figure out that saying ‘thank you’ or ‘you are a blessing’ was all that was needed.
Learning to stop talking and listen has always been hard for me but what I have discovered this late in my life is when I stop with a smile and thank you I SEE the face of the angel who helped me. It doesn’t matter what nationality, or skin color, or language they speak, the light shines through. It isn’t just their job anymore it’s that they have been recognized for who they are. If I am not speaking or thinking of more to say, I see them for who they are.
You have also probably noticed I have just as much trouble, maybe more, in receiving gratitude. I am self-deprecating to the extreme. Probably because I was taught that nothing I did was to be done for any expectation of thanks. But on this trip I was more aware of not just offering thanks but of receiving the gift of graciousness and help. You see to offer thanks you have to have received something and that gift is hard one for me to accept. But I learned to stop explaining that I fell, or have a back giving out on me. I learned to simply take someone’s hand and lean on them for help without explaining how independent I normally am.
The scripture of Mark is one of giving and receiving. It is giving your time to sow and the harvest is the receiving of God’s blessing (didn’t think I’d work that in did you). What has finally sunk into my rather thick brain is giving and receiving God’s blessings comes in many forms and I am grateful for the giving and receiving of all the blessings from God’s hands I have received not just on our trip but in my whole lifetime. It may seem like a small thing but graciously accepting the assistance from a stranger gives me a gift of love and the giver a gift of grace. The Importance of keeping the ‘thank you’ short and sweet is that it focuses on the gift and the giver rather than my own ego. It works the other way as well. Keeping assistance I give to someone else also focuses on the gift I give and the receiver of the gift instead of me. The giver and the receiver receive the gift of grace and love. That is a beautifully thing and passing that gift on grows the grace between me and you and opens wider the door of the Kingdom of God.
To all of you, Thank you for being who you are, and many blessing on your many journeys.
Ruth Jewell, ©June 15, 2015