August 2018 - Finding the Gift

Finding The Gift


Thirty years ago, possibly this very month, a friend and I walked the Pennine Way – all 270 miles of it along the spine of England and into Scotland. I think we walked for sixteen days, taking two rest days. For fourteen out of sixteen days it rained! Amid the beauty of the hills and moors it was sometimes hard to be appreciative with wet feet and blisters. The views were aften shrouded by cloud, but at least we did get to see it rain upwards at High Cup Nick (it's a local meteorological phenomenon)!

For perhaps twenty years after we achieved this, having had no training or support, there was a small niggle in my head. Rain, rain, rain, nearly every day, and I would gripe about it, as I did then. And it might not have been until I had children of my own did I come to realise a few things that had never occurred to me before.

My parents were incredibly generous with their support. I paid for the trip myself, but my mum and dad had every confidence that we would be absolutely fine and expressed no doubts about my abilities. I'm sure that privately they had their worries, but I am now so thankful that they let me go at all, and their confidence gave me confidence in myself, and that was a great gift in life. The beautiful thing my parents did was to post me beer money to the Youth Hostels as a surprise – now that's love.

But also, though I could simply not see it at the time, the rain was a gift. We were completely ill-prepared for good weather. We took no hats, no suncream and only relatively small water bottles. If the weather had been at all as it has been these past weeks, we would have been in serious trouble. Dehydration, sunburn and sunstroke would have been inevitable. It took me some two decades to look at the same scenario and, instead of seeing miserable drizzle, I see protective cloud. The rain is now a gift for which I am truly thankful.

Gratitude is difficult in real time, but now I try and train myself into thinking, 'Where is the gift in this situation?' Perhaps it only comes to me at the end of the day, or at the end of the week when I reflect back. Looking for the gift in any given situation, whether it seems at first good or bad, changes profoundly the way we read the world and our lives. In almost every situation there is a gift, and I hope you are able to find yours.

Nick Bird

Your Rector

This letter from Revd Nick Bird appeared in the August 2018 issue of The Grapevine