Yesterday I wrote about Phyl and her memories of a place called 5 Oaks. I'd like to go back there again for todays post. We arrived at the camp a little early so we snuck by the session going on in the main upstairs hall and went down to the little bookstore they have tucked away in one of the rooms off the main hallway. The door was far too narrow for me to enter, something that caused the staff real, not feigned, concern. I assured her that it was ok and I told her why we were there and what we wanted.
I told her about Phyl and her excited memories of 5 Oaks.
I told her about Phyl, now housebound.
I told her about Phyl's love of God and of church and her years of service to the United Church.
I told her that we'd love to send her a post card or something with a picture of the 5 Oaks building.
She sent Joe over to a stack of home made greeting cards. They were simply photographs taken of the grounds that were then pasted onto paper and folded. They were also simply beautiful. Joe brought me a stack and I flipped through them, happy to be shopping, happy to be thinking of Phyl, happy to be able to do something simple for someone I cared about.
Suddenly the clerk in the store showed up with a small cash of booklets. They were all old books about 5 Oaks. The history of the place. Memories of the place. She said, 'Give her these from me.' I looked at her face and my offer to pay for them died on my lips. She wanted to do this. She wanted to do a kind act for a stranger. It would have insulted her for me to insist on payment.
I do not fear charity born of kindness even as I loathe charity born of pity. I am writing this early, way to early to call my friend Belinda who can give me a Bible verse at a moments notice. Phyl always did that for me. I'd call and ask her where something was in the Bible and she'd say 'I don't think I know that one,' then pause and say, 'Wait a minute, you don't mean this one do you?' And then she'd nail it.
But somewhere it says something about being kind 'to the least of these' ... and here's the thing. Phyl might look like the 'least' to you. But she is all the world to me. And I am grateful for a little act of anonymous kindness, uncalled for, unasked for, but freely given.
No wonder the 5 Oaks still stand. How firm a foundation is love.