I sit here, a warm chicken pie in my hands.
It is a blessed comfort in the now-frosty late autumn days, here in this little town.
There is a strange feeling, however.
This pie… this pie. I’ll tell its story.
It had been a slightly estranged afternoon. With looming clouds overhead that is the busy weekend, beginning, for me, today through to next Wednesday, the flurry of the school term, responsibilities, yearnings, drifting thoughts, I could not bring myself to sit at my desk after an ardous morning. Feeling obliged to minister to a few others all at the same time, and academic-wise, being thrown in a million (it had felt) intrepid directions, unsure of moving forward, changing course, praying for directions and yet having no clear answers.
Finally, at about half three, I glanced up, looked at my books, and tried to discern if I had been called to pick up any one to read.
The calling – or lack of – was clear. No book reading for this late evening, Theophilia; rather, a walk to the Durham Cathedral was beckoning to me, a highly enticing one indeed. A time of recuperation in God’s house of worship. I too had an undone task – it was a dear sister’s baptism the following weekend, and I was meaning to present her with a gift from from the Cathedral shop. A gift to remember us, for when she leaves for China, permanently this time.
I put on my little pilgrim coat, graciously given to me by Georgina, and left the house under the Railway. The crisp evening air was refreshing. I took a deep breath, and headed out into the evening city.
Hurrying through and past Framwellgate Bridge, however, so focused was I on the pebblestoned pavement, that if not for a sidewards glimpse I would not have seen dear Dorina waving her way over to me.
I had been incredibly touched. Her face had lit up – she looked beautiful in her beige headscarf – and she asked if I was well.
“It’s getting really cold!” I said, mustering what little cheer I had left in me. “Are you well, too?”
She smiles at me, her smile so genuine, and so trusting, and nods.
I reach into my pocket, and realize that I had only a few cents left – I was meant to be headed towards the little cash machine in the centre of town, quite a way up the street.
She gestures, “it’s okay” , and gently placed a “Big Issue” magazine into my hands. I think to the time when old Mr B had plucked a scruffly bearded kiss on my cheek earlier last week, when I had stopped by to buy his copy of the Big Issue.
I smile in remembrance. It had been a blessed noon, that day. Mr B attends City Church in Newcastle.
“I will be back” , I tell Dorina , after my visit to the Cathedral. “What time do you leave?”
“5pm, okay, child” , That gentle, reassuring smile again.
We hug, her embrace incredibly gentle and motherly.
I skip up the street, my heart lifted, greatly warmed.
Thank You, Father.
I would be back before 5pm, to catch Dorina before she left home for Newcastle.
I had a recuperative afternoon in the Cathedral, talking a calm walk through the towering structure.
Being still before God was all that I had needed. Re-focus, re-dedication,
Being Still. Remembering He is GOD.
I will not go into further details, for one’s soul before God, of its precious time, must remain a secret, but it had been a greatly, greatly, comforting respite from the early part of this day.
“Your Word is a lamp for my feet, and a Light on my path” – Psalm 119: 105
I had left the Cathedral, the evening sky very much darkened now, excited then to reconvene with Dorina.
I remembered that she loved warm pies, and after visiting the machine, went to Gregg‘s, the local bread store, searching for a hot chicken bake.
I knew she would love it, she would. I was looking forward to her missing-toothed smile.
Me, myself. I had nothing to offer. All of such comes from God alone, God’s provision. What God gives, God gives, to share.
This time, however, she was no longer there.
My heart fell.
Still glimmering with hope, I walked into the bus station further along the road, and hoped to catch a glimpse of a beige headscarf in the dissipating crowds, lined up for the departing buses. It was not yet 5pm.
There was no sign of Dorina.
I know a Sovereign God had planned it this way, but it did make me think, and made me ponder. And to realize.
Through Dorina’s gracious act of trust, of kindness this day to me. Her trusting positionality, of giving me the Big Issue, for which she could have earned another two pounds fifty (quite a sum for her) even though I couldn’t pay at that moment, and believing I would return before 5, and to my surprise, leaving before I got there. I think she was probably conveying the message, that it was okay. There was no hurry. I felt as though God was telling me, telling me now, reminding me again:
My child. Rest in Me.
Receive, and receive. My Grace is Free, is Abundant. Now, all you have to do, is receive.
Child, quieten. Rest in Me.
“Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you Rest.”
– Matthew 11: 28
Through Dorina, God has blessed this evening with Rest. In a strange turn of events, the warm pie became a blessing to me, a gracious act on the part of my Father. And it felt as though, I had only gotten here, from a little of a wandering journey.
There will be an opportunity to meet Dorina again perhaps, next week. Then, I shall see her, and then, we could catch up again.
Rest in Me.
I bite into the warm chicken pie, and I do smile. The two pounds fifty lie on my table, alongside the copy of the Big Issue. Far and far beyond, these represent much more, much more than a friendship.
I give Praise and thanks to God.
He will see me through this busy weekend ahead. He will. Words can’t quite explain what I am trying to convey. As the days go by, I am learning to give, learning to loosen my hold, learning to Lean into, lean onto Him.
Your Strength and Your Grace, always finds me.
Thank You, Father.
“Christ is the Morning Star,
Who when the night of this world is past,
brings to His saints the promise of the Light of life,
and opens Everlasting Day.”
– The Venerable Bede in 1128, Apocalypsum on the wall of the Galilee Chapel, Durham Cathedral
“He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through Him and for Him.
And He is before all things, and in Him, all things hold together.”
– Colossians 1:15-17