Letter from the Rectory - September 2021
‘People will forget what we say, they will forget what we do, but they will never forget how we made them feel’, said Maya Angelu, an American poet and civil rights activist, on one occasion.
There is an instructive story near the beginning of the Bible about kindness. Abraham had sent his servant Eliezer to find a wife for his son Isaac. Standing by a small town well, Eliezer prayed, “Let the woman who offers to water my camels be the one you have chosen.” Suddenly Rebecca turns up and says, “I will draw water for your camels also,” (Genesis 24:13-14). Rebecca had no idea that meeting Eliezer and being kind to him would change her life.
In the Old Testament times it was customary to offer water from a well to a stranger. It was known as the law of hospitality. In the New Testament the author of the Book of Hebrews wrote, ‘Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.’ But who’d offer to provide water for camels? One camel alone can drink forty gallons, and Eliezer had ten of them! The task would have taken literally hours, but Rebecca obviously did what she was used to doing – just getting on with life and always looking to help others in the everyday routines of life.
It is striking too that Rebecca was generous to a stranger. She didn’t know this man or that these well-watered camels would lead her to Isaac, whom she would marry and so become a member of the family whose lineage would include Jesus himself.
As someone put it, perhaps the message of Rebecca is, ‘if you want to succeed, show up on time, stay focused, work hard and be a problem solver not of a problem causer’; live by Jesus’ maxim in Matthew 5 to ‘go the extra mile.’
Camels can be romantic from a distance, pictured in a desert landscape; they can travel at up to 40 mph; but at closer quarters are big and ugly. Yet from her engagement with them, Rebecca’s life was changed. As we emerge from the restrictions that we’ve been living with for 18 months, kindness that goes the extra mile and blesses others will be precious.