When I get into spiritual Eeyore mode, one thing that can revive me is a walk in the country. The Sussex countryside is beautiful, but it’s not just that. In the course of a few miles I’m likely to pass three or four village churches. These sweetly pachydermatous structures have a soothing effect on me. Twenty decades ago, when communication was extremely basic, one self-effacing man in an obscure corner of the world said and did things that resulted in there being at least one church in every village, town and city in this country alone. Now that’s growth. Staggering!
I recently discovered some mustard seeds that were planted a long time ago. Because of lack of exposure to light they’d done no growing. Now, though, they’ve been replanted, and there’s an unexpected harvest.
It’s not easy for me to talk about.
My relationship with my father was poor. He was a Roman Catholic convert, a man who wanted his faith to affect his life. In the main he was disappointed. He was a possessive, tortured individual, who had everything he wanted, but was incapable of enjoying it. His place in my memory had been a dark, miserable place for the whole of my life. A few weeks ago, light entered that darkness, and these three mustard seeds began to grow.
Slipped inside a book I hadn't looked at for years, I found a letter written to me by my father when I was a nineteen year old student. It was the only letter he ever sent me, and it was in reply to the only letter I ever sent him. Shortly after going to college I wrote my father the kind of letter I thought he’d want to read. It thanked him for all he’d done, and expressed a degree of affection I could never have actually spoken.
His reply was friendly, offering practical advice and not really reacting to the sentiments expressed in my letter. I’d been so disappointed. No exchange of feeling. I was very naïve. I’d barely glanced at the end of the letter. Now, as I looked more carefully at the very bottom of the final page, I realised I’d been wrong. My father had found a way to pass on more important feelings. Immediately after the signature there were three kisses. Mustard seeds.