Who was that?
“Oh, he’s the gardener.” Thus said the young brother accompanying his sister on the way to Rainbows at St Chads, spying me weeding the flower bed outside the church hall where the Rainbows were to plant flowers as part of their activities that afternoon. So lightly was I explained and dismissed. And then it struck me that I hadn’t been the first person mistaken for a gardener, that these words had been spoken before.
Spoken on a distant morning full of sorrow and dashed hopes when a woman had come to mourn and tend the body of one whom she loved only to be faced by the bewilderment of a missing body and words too wonderful to contemplate or too amazing to accept.
Spoken in the midst of her confusion and tumbling thoughts, to take the figure standing nearby for one no more than the caretaker of that space. Spoken, only to find the very one she sought. Spoken to the living risen Christ on the resurrection day whom she had last seen taken lifeless from a cruel execution and hastily laid in a tomb without all the proper attention that she and her comrades had wished to lavish upon him in love and gratitude.
How often do we fail to recognise one whom we should know well? How easily do we put people in a convenient place in our minds and then fail to recognise or comprehend them when we meet them in settings that to us seem unexpected? How many times does God meet us and yet we only realise after the event that the stranger, the unassuming figure passed by, the chance companion upon the road, all embodied the living Spirit. The living Spirit who loves to encounter us, to enrich us, to encourage us, to enlighten us upon our way.
So, who is that whom you meet today?