London, the East End c.1942
Margaret walked carefully down the High Street, more slowly than usual so as not bruise the precious cargo wrapped in tissue in her hand bag. In her other hand she carried the basket that held the weeks rations – the small bags of sugar and egg powder, the strips of bacon wrapped in grease paper. The ham bones, which the butcher had given to her, would be boiled with the vegetables from Jim’s allotment. It would make a good soup; her church would give it to those bombed out of their homes tonight, and to those who would be pulling the bodies of their mothers, fathers, sons and daughters from the rubble in the morning.
As Margaret turned the corner into the street where the families terraced home stood, she saw that the doors of the church were open. She walked in, inhaling the scent of dark wood and old stone, musty velvet and old incense, and the many tired and weary tears shed before God. Quietly she walked up the central aisle and stopped before the alter; she bowed her head before the plain wooden cross which sat at its centre, her heart reminding her that God had suffered for every soul, and He knew their pain. She thanked God again for sparing the church from the bombs, then slid into the front pew and carefully rested her bags on the worn velvet cushions next to her.
As she reached under the pew for one of the big fat cushions on which to kneel, she felt God nudge her.
“Margaret my child, I know your knee’s hurt you. You do not need to kneel.”
Margaret smiled; she did not need to tell the Lord how sore they had been lately. Closing her eyes, she opened up her heart, feeling His refreshing presence around her. She thanked him first, as she always did, and prayed for as many of the hurt and wounded around her as she could remember. First she prayed for little Amanda Burrows who lived in the next street, and was now without mother, father or home; she was being cared for by Jenny Lipton who lived next door to Margaret. Not that Jenny minded – her own husband was gone and they had not had time to have a child of their own. Margaret began to see the glimmer of hope there.
“Yes Margaret, do not worry for the child. She was a blessing to her mother and she will be a blessing to your friend too.”
Then there was Davy over at the shelter – back from the war minus a leg and now homeless and a widower with a baby son to tend to.
“Take Jenny to the shelter tomorrow Margaret; she prays for Davy every day and he begins to feel my presence around him. My plans for them both will come to fruition.”
Through the long list of unhappy people for whom Margaret prayed, God steadily guided her to understand that each was not without hope and showed his willing daughter what she could do for each, soothing her impatient cries when she could not be the one to help; and he smiled on her lovingly for He had made this woman passionate for others cares.
Margaret turned her head to her handbag for a moment, slightly hesitant.
“Lord, about this peach…” she said, not sure how to continue the sentence.
“Yes my child. You want to know if it is from me.”
“Yes Father,” sighed Margaret, glad that He knew every hair on head and every thought in her heart.
“It is from me my child. And it is for you and your family; you serve ceaselessly my daughter.”
Tears of gratitude and relief began to fill Margaret’s eyes. Amid the scarcity of rations, amid the black rubble and dust of bombed out homes, amid the tragedies and broken bones: Father had provided her hungry children with a soft, sweet peach. She could not speak her gratitude – she could only offer up her grateful heart and weary but glad tears.
“Thank you Lord,” she whispered, and reached for the bible that lay on the shelf in from of her. She allowed it to fall open and read the passage before her:
“Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways. You will eat the fruit of your labour; blessings and prosperity will be yours.” (Psalm 128:1-3 NIV).
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