No thank you


Ears can be a terrible nuisance in a high wind.


The title needs a bit of punctuation. I don’t mean “No, thank you.” I mean “No ‘thank you.'”

That was the tiny straw that broke this camel’s back.

Archbishop Justin Welby has rightly been praised by religious leaders of different faiths, among many others, for the grace, dignity and courtesy he has shown since the revelations about his parentage. That’s what we’d expect from His Grace, and surely what we would hope for from anyone trying to live a Christlike life.

I was brought up by a Victorian mother who, not surprisingly, had fairly rigid views on good manners and courtesy, particularly for a Christian. I seem to remember that was mainly because you never knew when you might be meeting angels unawares and you didn’t want to be rude to Gabriel.

Let’s go back to my last Sunday in my village church. I was still there, six months after those horrible boxes, and four months after my letter to the bishop. They’d been fairly uncomfortable, unhappy Sundays and this particular one was on the day after several of the congregation had held a fund-raising event. At the end of the service the event organizer announced that we had raised £300.00 – not bad for a small village – and she thanked everyone who had helped. The Vicar said not a word.

I’m sorry that I have to confess to such a pathetic final straw, but that is the truth, and for a time I had to struggle with the feeling that I was a rat leaving a sinking ship. Now I am reconciled to the fact that I have just walked away from an intolerable situation. Having made up my mind I e mailed to the vicar and wrote to the Diocesan Office to say I no longer felt I could be a member of the Church in Wales. They both said ‘sorry’ but made no attempt to persuade me to change my mind. I don’t blame them. They were probably only too thankful to be free of this homophobic bigot. I also wrote to 39 Cathedral Road, Cardiff, where all the church’s money gets sent, to explain that I was stopping my Direct Debit. Needless-to-say I received no acknowledgement, let alone a note of thanks. That’s the end of that particular story.

What was your first prayer? Mine was:

“Thank you for the world so sweet. Thank you for the food we eat. Thank you for the birds that sing. (My daughter used to add ‘in Grandma’s garden)   Thank you God for everything.”

When my son and his family in Dubai come home for the summer I will teach that to Ella, aged four, if she doesn’t already know it. And I will teach Hannah, aged two, my even shorter four word prayer. “Thank you. Sorry. Yes!”

Thank you. She’ll have no trouble with that. She’s mad about animals; having two dogs indoors and cows, sheep, squirrels and rabbits outside plus the use of a horse and she’ll have plenty to say thank you for.  Sorry. She’s a bit of a handful so it won’t be hard to find something to say sorry for; but only one ‘sin’. I don’t want her thinking loving God is all about guilt.And the fourth word? A heartfelt Yes! For whatever God chooses to give.

Perhaps I’m as Victorian as my mother but just what is so difficult about those two little words – thank you?

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