Just before the eucharist tonight, I stumbled across a set of pictures that a friend and I once prepared for worship. So, I decided to use them as a focus for where our restless hearts might find God (St Augustine, today).
I picked up a picture that I thought was about prayer — about the longing for prayer, for silence.
And instead, what I got was a childhood memory.
I have only three day-in-and-day-out sort of memories from early childhood. One is of sitting on the floor, smoothing the tassels of the white rug against the dark hardwood floor. Another is trying desperately to pet Skipper — a huge and dignified tom-cat who never once scratched me, for all that he hated my efforts to hold (not pull) his tail. And the third is of Mozel — a woman who shared Skipper’s dignity and patience, and who used to let me follow her around the house.
Mozel cleaned for us. I suppose she came when my mother was ill and my grandmother was fragile, and I was too small not to know that cats don’t like having their tails held. All I knew was that she was a familiar presence and the first person who in some strange way I might have thought of as a friend.
She taught me how to dust the living room tables: square, dark and low, made perfect with soft white cloths, folded and filled with woody, lemony wax. She kept secret the time my crayon drifted where it shouldn’t have and somehow got the red swirls off the wall. And she generally humoured me and let me follow her around though what must have been the ‘why’ stage.
I hadn’t thought of her in years.
So, God bless Mozel, and all those people who receive the friendship of children too small to realise how demanding they are.