How many of you have ever watched The Simpsons? I have never been much of a fan but I have often used the catchphrase of one of the characters, Homer Simpson, the one where he exclaims ‘D’oh!’ whenever he realises
he’s done something stupid or not noticed the obvious!
I had a ‘D’oh!’ moment when I went to the Post Office the other day to post one parcel and collect another one. It had been a busy week, I was rushing around gradually getting grumpier and moaning to anyone who would listen about how busy I was so I wasn’t best pleased to see a huge queue in front of me. Sighing inwardly I joined the queue, mentally noting how slowly everyone seemed to be moving and wishing they would keep their jolly conversations with the counter staff to a minimum to speed things up! I smiled outwardly of course, mainly because I was wearing my clericals and nobody wants to see a tetchy vicar!!!
Finally, it was my turn and I handed my parcel over to be posted, closely followed by the card that indicated the package I had come to collect. ‘Oh I’m sorry’ said the cashier, ‘you have to collect parcels from that counter over there’. I turned to where she was pointing and was greeted by a queue longer than the one I had just been standing in. I confess that my smile did not reach my eyes and I’m not sure I managed to hide my displeasure completely as I flounced (my mum tells me I do that!) to join the back of the ‘collection queue’.
I stood behind a little old lady who looked far too cheerful for a dreary Monday morning and prepared to waste another twenty minutes in impatient grumpiness. Alas, or so I thought at the time, my clerical collar seemed to be an invitation to engage in conversation (I told you I was grumpy!!) and the little old lady started to chat. ‘How lovely to see a young lady of the cloth’ she remarked, winning me over from the word ‘young’ and proceeding to tell me about her life from birth to the present day!!
Despite her cheerfulness, it turns out that this little old lady had had quite a harrowing life with much grief and hardship along the way but she told her story without a hint of bitterness, frequently saying how grateful she was for the many blessings she had received, including the chance to have a conversation with me that morning as she had no family and hadn’t spoken to anyone since the last time she was shopping three days ago.
That was the ‘D’oh!’ moment. The moment that God dropped the thought into my head that my life really wasn’t all about the micro-universe I had chosen to inhabit that morning, the one that revolved solely around my needs and my wants. My impatience to get through my busy day was blinding me to the joy that could be had within that busy-ness, moment by moment. I was rushing to get to the end of the day without cherishing the minutes and hours along the way.
Before I knew it, it was my turn to be served at the counter and I hadn’t noticed the length of my wait, thanks to the little old lady with the beaming smile who took the time to jolt me out of my grumpiness and who had unknowingly changed the mood of my whole week for the better.
It was a timely reminder as the church begins the season of Advent, the season of expectation and anticipation, as we prepare to celebrate the coming of Christ in his incarnation. It’s a busy time for all of us and it is so easy to get swept up in our ever-increasing ‘to do’ lists as we look ahead to Christmas Day. But before Christmas, comes Advent. God’s invitation to be patient, to prepare and take stock and to anticipate, with growing excitement, the joy that is promised through our saviour, Jesus Christ.
So, I thank God for that little old lady, and I pray that we may each be reminded to enter into the joy that is offered in every moment of our day.
In our busy-ness, in our quiet times, in our obviously happy moments and
in the times where there seems little to be happy about, Christ walks with each of us, patiently waiting for us to notice his presence.
May you too have many ‘D’oh!’ moments!!! I wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a joyful New Year.
With love - Ginni