Originally published in the Osney Benefice Magazine of Oct to Nov 2017
A little while ago one of our clergy said she found it comforting, when driving by St Lawrence on a dark evening, to see a light shining through the window; it made her feel that somebody was at home, somebody was keeping the lamp alight and that somebody was in God’s house.
The light she saw as she drove by is the light on the organ music desk indicating that somebody, most likely me, is working away at a piece of music: battling with Bach, grappling with Guilmant or a happy hour with Hesse. The music desk light, shining through the window of an otherwise dark church, giving somebody passing by a good feeling would not be found in the far reaches of the mind of the person seated at the console.
‘You know not what you do’ seems appropriate.
I am reminded of a chance meeting with a young lady that I used to sit in a small group with some years ago. She looked at me and said “Oh, I tell everybody what you said. At the time I thought it was a bit ‘wacky’ but now I tell everybody.” I just smiled but was thinking what on earth was it that I had said? It did not seem right to enquire so I never knew.
We all go through life not knowing what we do. We have no idea what effect we have on other people; just being cheerful and friendly can pick up another person for the rest of their day. George came to visit and we went out to eat and had a good day together. The next day he phoned to say how good he felt and wondered how long it would last; till the next time you see your lady friend I thought. She questions everything and looks for the bad in all things. I can only take so much of that. Ah, but, have you heard....
I have a letter from a nice gentleman who lived in Cheltenham. I had gone to attend to the Yamaha piano that he had bought, at the age of eighty or so, to learn to play. His wife had died and he devoted himself to music but would only play music that he had heard before. I talked to him and sent him things he had not heard before but were easy to play. He is not there now and it was some years ago. I still have the letter he wrote saying I had restored his faith in humanity. I cannot claim anything special as I was just being who I am and doing what I do.
I remember Peter’s 50th Birthday party. As I walked through the door, seeing Peter sat in a chair, I had the overpowering sensation to shake his hand and say "Congratulations Peter" but, due to having the wife with me (now ex) I did not do it. Sometime later I told him about it. He had moved home and the wife was no more. He explained how, at that party, nobody spoke to him much and how he never expected to live past forty-eight, the age his father had died. Should there be another impulse to do something I am going to do it! Or am I?
Some months later I went out of my first floor flat heading for the car to go somewhere. A lady was cleaning the stair carpet and I knew she had been asked by the lady, who lives on the same floor, to do it as part of cleaning her flat. Not wanting to disturb her efforts on the carpet I crept past and, as I did so, she looked sideways at me and, as I looked into her eyes, I had the most overpowering sensation to kiss her. I paused on the stairs looking at her trying to make up my mind. It must have been about five seconds I looked at her deliberating what to do but, in the end, thought better of it, not knowing what the consequences of kissing her might be, and carried on to my car. It was over a week before I put the two things together. I had failed again! I did enquire as to who she was but nothing ever came of it and she never appeared on the stairs again. Was it important? I have no idea and probably never will.
Maybe, in these little anecdotes, you may think of something you said or did without realising the effect it had on another person. You have no idea what you are really doing, or how it may change, however slightly, the course of somebody’s life.
In a hotel I noticed a small poster on a wall. It read: Everyone brings Joy to this Office; some when they enter and others when they leave. Hopefully I bring joy when I enter but – who knows?
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