Thought of the week
July 25th 2020
How do you start the day? Are you one of those people who can run out and be bright at work with only a cup of coffee inside you or do you feel that it is impossible to begin without a good breakfast? I am unashamedly one of the latter. You can keep your coffee. Give me a nice cup of tea anytime and, with it, some tasty, nourishing food.
If you are one who enjoys a proper breakfast, are you adventurous in deciding upon your menu or do you prefer to stick to one favourite dish? I think many of us like to have the comfort of a familiar old friend on the breakfast table. Certainly, I do. Do you remember the old advertising slogan, “Go to work on an egg”? I took it to heart and feel that a day which has not started with a boiled egg is a day lost.
My Grandfather would have disagreed with me. He was a great lover of fish and considered smoked haddock to be the best possible dish that anyone could be served for breakfast. He may have been willing to have a poached egg with it, but for him, the haddock was the essential ingredient.
Talking of haddock reminds me of a story.
Over the past weeks, in some of these thoughts, I have mentioned feline friends of the past. This may lead you to think that I am doggist. Far from it. I have had my canine friends too. In the battle between dogs and cats, I am a neutral who is friendly to both sides. This may be because I grew up with one of each.
George, the cat, was part of the home when I was born. I grew up with him, but a change happened when I was seven. My Father, who was very soft hearted when it came to animals, arrived home with a spaniel puppy. He had stopped to admire it in a parked car and been told by its owner that his wife refused to have it and he was on the way to the vet to have it destroyed. Father could not think of this, produced a £1 note and became the proud owner of a dog with a pedigree a mile long. Her Kennel Club name was Blue Rona of Ware. We called her Silky.
Family and neighbours clustered round to admire this delightful new addition to the household. I was joining in, when I looked round and saw poor old George sitting at a distance and looking so forlorn. I ran to him and stroked him, telling him I still loved him as much as ever. (I tell you this to show what a thoughtful and caring little boy I was!)
George may have been reassured by my love for he did not remain forlorn for long. He decided that he had better deal with the situation by taking this new creature in hand. He was a big, fearless cat and many a dog took a wide detour to avoid his house after its nose had come into contact with his clawed paw. But he did not choose violence now. Dog though she was, he decided to make friends with the puppy, curb her excessive exuberance and teach her to behave like a respectable animal. The result was that she learned to wash her face like a cat, became devoted to him and would do anything he asked.
Which brings me back to haddocks. George was a very intelligent cat. (Oh dear, this was supposed to be about dogs and puss will keep pushing in.) He could open doors and often would do so with crime in mind. One day, Father brought in a large smoked haddock. There were no refrigerators in those days. We had a larder with a cold shelf. The haddock, having been admired, was placed on this.
George agreed with Grandfather that there could be no better breakfast than smoked haddock. He could open the door, but there was a problem. He knew that he may be disturbed in his meal if he partook of it in the larder, but the fish was too big and heavy for him to lift. Better to share, after all, he was not an ungenerous cat. He frequently would bring in a dead mouse as a gift for Silky. He invited her in as an accomplice. We looked out of the window to see the haddock disappearing down the garden path, the cat holding its head and the dog holding its tail.
This brings me to a moral, not the one I had intended, but worth pointing out. Cats and dogs are supposed to be mortal enemies, but if they break the barriers and become friends, it is amazing what they can achieve together. The dog could not open the door. The cat could not lift the fish. But together, they achieved a delicious meal. And, of course, what is good for animals is good for humans. “Love your enemies. Do good to them that persecute you.”
Back to the beginning. Jesus talked about fish and eggs. It was in a discussion of prayer. He asked if a human parent would offer their child a snake if asked for a fish or a scorpion if asked for an egg and went on to say that if humans know how to give good things to their children, how much more does God. “Ask and it will be given unto you.”
Silky was an incredibly gentle, good natured and loving creature, but she had a besetting sin; gluttony. Her one trick was to sit up begging for food. I have included a grainy old photo, taken with a box camera, of her begging for a birthday cake which I am holding. If I had given it to her, she would have eaten the lot and been very sick. She did have a small portion because it was her birthday.
Earthly parents do not always give their children the things they ask for. An occasional sweet may be a pleasant treat, but fifty a day leads to tooth decay and worse. So requests for sweets get refused or converted into something more healthy like a cherry. (My Grandparent’s cherry tree is another happy childhood memory.)
Similarly, our Heavenly Father does not always give us what we ask for in prayer, but He does give us what we need. He gives us the greatest nourishment of all; the presence of the Holy Spirit.
I can not start the day without the nourishment of a boiled egg. But there is something else, even more important, which is necessary to the starting of the day. It is the nourishment which is received from the Spirit in a day which begins with prayer.
May the Spirit bless your prayers with His presence and give you all that you need.