I attended a funeral mass this week, for a man who was obviously well loved by his family and church community.
I arrived just before the service started and the church was already full, with few places to sit, but my co-worker Elaine (the same Elaine who nudged me in 2006, to write this blog), waved me over to an empty seat beside her in the back row.
The choir sang beautifully; the priest officiating said that you can always tell how much someone was loved by the choir. They filled many rows at the front of the church.
But it was the tribute given by the man's daughter that touched me most of all.
I don't know how she managed to be as composed as she was. When my dad died I remember the overwhelming exhaustion of grief; our raw hearts laid bare. We gratefully leaned on the strength of a gentle vicar who asked us who Dad was and then said the words we wanted to say to honour him.
So I admired the stalwartness of this young woman who did what I couldn't, and her sister and brother who stood with her and said their piece too.
She described her father and his character; the loving relationship he had with his daughters. And she took us back to one special morning, when as a little girl she was up early, helping him cook breakfast. The eggs and bacon sizzled in the pan, and there were pancakesf with real maple syrup.
Suddenly her dad turned to her and said, "Do you want to come with me to get the mail?"
She went with him to the mailbox, thinking it strange that he should ask her to do this as they were making breakfast. As he sorted through the mail, he said, "Oh, look, there is something for you."
For her? Eagerly her hands reached for the envelope and opening it she found a card on which were written just three words, "Someone loves you."
She knew her dad had sent the card and that he knew she knew, but neither of them said so. It was his way of telling her he loved her.
As he shuffled through the remaining mail he said with pretend surprise, "Oh, look, another one," and handed her another envelope.
Inside was another card, exactly the same as the first one! On this card the words said, "I love you."
Sending two cards that were the same, was her dad's way of emphasizing to his daughter that she was loved, beyond a shadow of a doubt. One card was just not enough to do that.
This dad was imperfect, only human, but he excelled in the way he conveyed love to this daughter.
As a raindrop carries a miniature reflection of the world around it, his demonstration of love was a reflection of a perfect Heavenly Father; a Father who sends signs of love to his children, over and over.
Like the dad in this story, I wonder if God eagerly wants to say, "Come to the mailbox with me," so that we would see how much he loves us, for His love notes are sprinkled liberally everywhere for those who have eyes to see.
John 1:16 (New International Version)
16From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.
John 4:10 (New International Version)
10 Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God ...