This past Sunday afternoon, our friends drove us into the nearby village of Pangbourne. A river runs through it – the inspiration for Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows.
We wanted to show Scott more than the website of his new school because he’d be starting the very next day, having been in a new country for not-quite-two-weeks. And so we stood at the gates of Pangbourne Primary School and Scott held my hand extremely tightly and I burst into tears.
Because a mom is only ever as happy as her unhappiest child and what if they don’t realise how marvellous he is and what if no one is kind to him and what if the other children are awful and what if he’s afraid and alone in corridors filled with kids wearing jumpers and trainers and trousers – not sweaters and takkies and pants?
Murray hugged me and said everything’s going to be ok and our friends graciously suggested wandering back into the village to find coffee to calm me down. While Murray and Stuart waited for white hot chocolates and Americanos, Tracey hugged me some more and we glanced into the windows of village shops so I could pull myself together.
Then Tracey said, ‘There’s Debbie!’
She waved to a friend across the street who happened to be out on her exercise-once-a-day-only-because-there’s-a-pandemic walk. She came over and we were all introduced and she was gentle like Jesus.
Scott crossed the street to say hi. Tracey explained how he was starting school the next day (albeit online, with the rest of the nation).
Then Debbie told Scott she also moved to England from South Africa when she was ten years old. She was also freaked out. She also went to Pangbourne Primary School. She liked it so much she later sent her son there too. She talked about canoeing and biking and football and hope.
I mean, seriously?!
What are the serendipitous chances we would meet a Jesus-loving woman in a village street on this big new scary side of the world carrying Scott’s same story except that God collects our tears and goes ahead of us in all the things and answers before we even cry out to Him?
We walked along the Thames and I thought about how, in Kingdom culture, on riverbanks and in corridors foreign and familiar, His banner over us is love. Scott and me and everyone in the school of life – we already have gold stars on our foreheads. We don’t need to earn them.
And when we relax into the safe warm truth that we’re pre-approved, we find fresh courage and capacity for growth – for pressing on, as Paul says, to grab hold of that for which Jesus grabbed hold of us.
. . .
Happy weekend, friend!
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