August 2018 - Finding the Gift

Finding The Gift


Thirty years ago, possibly this very month, a friend and I walked the Pennine Way – all 270 miles of it along the spine of England and into Scotland. I think we walked for sixteen days, taking two rest days. For fourteen out of sixteen days it rained! Amid the beauty of the hills and moors it was sometimes hard to be appreciative with wet feet and blisters. The views were aften shrouded by cloud, but at least we did get to see it rain upwards at High Cup Nick (it's a local meteorological phenomenon)!

For perhaps twenty years after we achieved this, having had no training or support, there was a small niggle in my head. Rain, rain, rain, nearly every day, and I would gripe about it, as I did then. And it might not have been until I had children of my own did I come to realise a few things that had never occurred to me before.

My parents were incredibly generous with their support. I paid for the trip myself, but my mum and dad had every confidence that we would be absolutely fine and expressed no doubts about my abilities. I'm sure that privately they had their worries, but I am now so thankful that they let me go at all, and their confidence gave me confidence in myself, and that was a great gift in life. The beautiful thing my parents did was to post me beer money to the Youth Hostels as a surprise – now that's love.

But also, though I could simply not see it at the time, the rain was a gift. We were completely ill-prepared for good weather. We took no hats, no suncream and only relatively small water bottles. If the weather had been at all as it has been these past weeks, we would have been in serious trouble. Dehydration, sunburn and sunstroke would have been inevitable. It took me some two decades to look at the same scenario and, instead of seeing miserable drizzle, I see protective cloud. The rain is now a gift for which I am truly thankful.

Gratitude is difficult in real time, but now I try and train myself into thinking, 'Where is the gift in this situation?' Perhaps it only comes to me at the end of the day, or at the end of the week when I reflect back. Looking for the gift in any given situation, whether it seems at first good or bad, changes profoundly the way we read the world and our lives. In almost every situation there is a gift, and I hope you are able to find yours.

Nick Bird

Your Rector

This letter from Revd Nick Bird appeared in the August 2018 issue of The Grapevine

Letters from the Rev
Webpage icon March 2019 - Politics, Polarisation & Prayer
Webpage icon February 2019 - Bike Theft
Webpage icon January 2019 - A Healing Presence
Webpage icon December 2018 - It is more blessed to give than to receive
Webpage icon November 2018 - A Hundred Years of Remembering
Webpage icon October 2018 - Gay is OK
Webpage icon September 2018 - Time
Webpage icon July 2018 - Who has the power?
Webpage icon June 2018 - The story of a peasant and a horse...
Webpage icon May 2018 - That Space
Webpage icon March 2018 - Things the Bible doesn't say (but you thought it did)
Webpage icon April 2018 - Paradigm Shift
Webpage icon February 2018 - Who is welcome in church?
Webpage icon January 2018 - Starting Over
Webpage icon December 2017 - Be still!
Webpage icon November 2017 - Seven Sacred Spaces
Webpage icon October 2017 - Free Together!
Webpage icon September 2017 - Open your eyes and live!
Webpage icon August 2017 - Carrying the hot rock of resentment