You Never Know!

A little over a year ago a call came, one afternoon, out of the blue, from a stranger. A woman’s voice on the other end of the line said, “Hello pastor. I’m Susan Elizabeth Morrison Boatman Garland, and I’d like a visit from you.” Well, how can you say no to a name that! So off I went.

Sitting around her kitchen table, she told me an old story I can now only dimly remember, about a time in the early seventies, almost forty years ago, when as an accomplished pianist she found herself without a piano to play, and contacted our church, to see if she might be able to come and play, which she did for a brief season.

Now, all these years later, she expressed through some emotion the meaning of that hospitality during what she called “a painful time” of life. She remembered the kindness of Art Nelson, pastor at the time, and she said, “I want to thank your church now, again, at the end of my life.” Leaning a bit more toward me, she told me that upon her death a gift would be coming to the church, the amount of which could underwrite a new grand piano. “But”, she said, “Knowing your church as I do, I’m sure you already have a very capable instrument. So use it as you see fit, to the glory of God.”

Well, this week the fed-ex truck came with a check for 40 thousand dollars, along with a letter from Sue’s niece and trustee. “I wish to give thanks for my beautiful, beloved, philanthropic and eccentric aunt Sue. Thank you for being a happy and wonderful part of Sue’s life. She was very proud to be a part of yours.” Sue died on May 1 tragically in a fire at her home.

I’m left reflecting on her intentionality and memory of a brief interaction long forgotten by our Church, and this brings me again to the power of a moment, or a season, to how we never know how God’s Spirit is at work through our hospitality to others.

Thank you to pastor Art, and whoever the secretary and custodian was at that time, for welcoming Sue and helping her to make music. Thank you to Sue for her generous and kind gift. May she rest now in peace and rise in glory!

You never know!

Peter Hawkinson

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