Monday, November 12, 2018

Mystery Book

Last Sunday while I was greeting someone before the service began a book arrived on my seat, in a smart paper bag.  As soon as I found it I looked around to see who might have placed it there - with no success.  No one caught my eye!  Opening the bag I found a copy of Andrew White's autobiography: My Journey So Far.  Andrew is known as the Vicar of Baghdad but he gained international renown as a reconciler both between Christian and Jew and between Shi'ite and Sunni Muslims.  Despite pain (sometimes acute) from multiple sclerosis he had never given up in his desire to show love in the most dangerous situations and he is one of my great contemporary Christian heroes.  He really is.

I love what The Spectator wrote of him: Canon White is instantly, unusually lovable...He is pure of heart in the way few people over five ever are. It makes sense that he's spent two decades as a peace-maker, negotiation with tyrants and psychopaths, because he's utterly disarming.

He really is instantly, unusually lovable.  I met him at breakfast in Wheaton a few years ago.  A mutual friend had invited me and I was quite overawed thinking I would spend some time with this larger than life figure I had heard and seen so much in the media.  But his love and warmth were instantly and genuinely overwhelming.  He told me how he had studied at Ridley Hall in Cambridge while I was minister at St. Andrew's Street and how he heard so much about the church, though his loyalites to the Church of England prevented him from coming.  I couldn't believe it.  And when I read his book I marvel how in his time in Cambridge he connected with several Anglicans who were friends of mine.

My guess is that the mystery donor of this book had no idea how thrilled I am to receive this book.  Actually, Carol wondered if it was left there by mistake, or intended for someone else!  I expect I shall eventually find out who left it and whether it was intentional.  But I rejoice in jogged memories of this wonderful lovable man of God.  Such autobiographies and biographies are exhilarating and encouraging reads, aren't they?

No comments: