The new Chancellor’s inauguration was a special occasion for the University and the first of the new millennium. To mark the event, the Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment had designed and created a new chair for the Chancellor that was made entirely of glass. It was customary at the start of the inauguration service for the chair to be carried into the centre of the collegiate church with the new Chancellor seated in it. Rather belatedly however, it was left until the morning rehearsal of the ceremony before anyone wondered if the new throne, being rather less angular than its oaken predecessor, was so easily portable. Happily it was and with the rehearsal swiftly concluded, I found time to look around the church.
Off to one side was an enclosed area which served as a small chapel for private prayer. There, you could also post your written prayer on a board and light a candle. It was unoccupied and pausing beside the prayer board I read of all the common miseries which afflict our mortal existence. Unusually, I had no concerns of my own to lay before God that day and no need to of his intervention—or did I?
Picking up a slip of paper, I wrote on it:
Let my prayer help the next person in need who reads it.
Let the knowledge that a stranger cared, fill that person
with renewed faith and hope, and let that person leave
this place secure in the knowledge that you are with them
and that whatever happens, all will be well in the end.
“The bud may have a bitter taste, but sweet will be the flower.”
Come the afternoon, a grand procession made its way to the church and then a smaller one accompanied the new Chancellor into position for the service. At that point, my colleagues and I exited stage left and I found myself in the chapel once more. I then noticed that during lunch, another slip of paper had appeared beside my prayer. It read simply:
Please. May this truly Christian thought be allowed to remain here? It helps.
I don’t think it was ever really my thought. I was just the vessel for its expression and the means to an end which appeared to be to lend comfort to some poor, tortured soul. Even so, it put a lump in my throat the size of a golf ball.
In this materialistic age, we’re often led to believe that giving money is the be all and end all of charity. It turns out that it could be a whole lot simpler than that.