Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Alfred Twiddles His Thumbs
Cold Pork Pie

            “It is not good for man to be alone,”[i] said Alfred reflectively; the problem being that Mother had gone away for a three day personal retreat with Grace Whittington at Magnolia Blossom Spa.  The Scottish housekeeper Agnes Findlay had left Alfred, at his request, with a lovely slab of cold pork pie, some sweet gherkin pickles and a generous slice of Cheshire Cheese.  Alfred carried his tray out to the ornamental iron table in the back garden and provided himself with a bottle of Guinness.  Pippa the frou-frou dog was lying at his feet under the table. 

Truth be told both Alfred and Pippa were moping because Mother had gone away.  Alfred sat back in his chair with his elbows resting on the arms of his chair and his hands slightly raised in front of him with the tips of his fingers touching.  He looked down.  “Oh, no!” he said aloud.  He was actually twiddling his thumbs.

He thought to himself, “I really don’t do ‘alone’ very well. ‘ It’s not good for a man to be alone’, and it is certainly not good for me to be alone either.”  He reached down under the table and gave Pippa the last piece of Cheshire Cheese, took up his tray and headed for the kitchen.

Alfred had a long standing habit of rising before Mother and generally treasured a time of solitude at the beginning of the day.  In the last few months he had begun to read from the Book of Psalms along with a reading from the Old Testament or an Epistle, and always a reading from the four Gospels.

That was all well and good but Alfred was not a recluse and he needed company, particularly Mother’s company even more than he needed those early morning times of solitude.  He went into his study, picked up the phone and dialed the number for Horace Whittington.  It rang and rang and rang, and in the end he put the phone down, sat down in his Churchill Barcalounger, turned on his Samsung UNF3000 television and idly scrolled down through the selection of available programming. 

He frowned, “No matter how excellent the TV, it is still the same old programming.”  He finally settled on a PBS program on Royal Palaces.  He watched for a few minutes, then turned it off again.  It only made him think of Mother.  Just the kind of program she loved.  He called Pippa and ambled back out into the quiet of the garden.

It was there that a very unusual thing began to happen.  He felt a presence, not just any presence, but the Presence of Him who had died for him and rose again. The night sky with its myriad of stars shone brightly in the garden.  The garden seemed packed quite full with love as Love Himself came and filled the very place where Alfred and Pippa stood together.  Love in all His warmth and freshness came filling the very air that Alfred breathed; and as he breathed, that Love above all other loves, entered in.   It was strong hands upon his shoulders.  He was enfolded, loved, calmed.  

He thought of that line from the Book of Psalms, “You strengthen me more and more; you enfold and comfort me.”[ii]  It was good, very good!  But he still missed Mother.  Thank goodness she would be back tomorrow afternoon.       

[i] Genesis 2:18
[ii] Psalm 71:21 BCP

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