(A story by Jenny Bateman read at the White Eagle Family Service 4.3.18.
‘Oh, bother!’ said Katy as she drew back her bedroom curtains. ‘It’s raining – again!’
Although it was still dark outside, the light was on in the kitchen beneath her bedroom and she could see the rain splashing into the puddles on the patio.
‘Why does it always have to rain at weekends?’ she thought. Katy loved being outside more than anything, going for long cycle rides with her friends, playing in the fields around their house and riding the ponies from the riding school nearby. You couldn’t do any of that in the rain without getting horribly wet and uncomfortable and Katy had sometimes come in with even her underwear soaked.
When she went down for breakfast, she could see that her Mum had been baking.
‘Oh Katy’, she said ‘could you just pop round to Mrs. Matthews on your bike after breakfast and take some scones that I’ve baked? As you know she slipped on the ice last month and broke her ankle so I’m sure it would cheer her up’.
‘Mum – it’s raining!’ protested Katy. ‘I’ll get really wet – do I have to?’
‘Katy, it isn’t very far and Mrs. Matthews would be so pleased to see you’.
Katy pulled a face although she liked Mrs. Matthews. She had often been round to her house and chatted about things, especially when she was being bullied at school. Sometimes her Mum was so busy with her new baby brother Darren, that she didn’t seem to have much time to listen to Katy. And lately it had been ‘Katy, could you just do this; Katy, could you just do that’. She knew her Mum had lots to do with their big family and a job as well but she still felt resentful. And now, she couldn’t go out to play but was going to get wet anyway. Katy felt really annoyed and slammed the back door rather hard as she went to get her bike.
However, when she arrived, Mrs. Matthews was so very pleased to see her.
‘Do come in, Katy dear, and take off your wet things. Oooh – scones! They look delicious! How very kind of you to cycle over here to bring them for me!’
Katy felt guilty as she hadn’t been kind at all and was still feeling cross.
‘Would you like one, dear, with lots of butter and jam?’
‘Oh yes, please’ Katy replied.
‘The butter and jam are in the fridge. Can you get them out for me?’
Mrs. Matthews then buttered two scones and topped them with a generous dollop of strawberry jam.
Katy was embarrassed to remember how grumpy she must have looked when she came in and didn’t want her kind host to think it was anything to do with her.
So she said ‘I hate February!’
‘Do you, dear? Well I think I used to, at your age, but now I think of it as ‘the month of promises’.
Katy was intrigued. ‘What do you mean’ she asked.
‘Well’ said Mrs. Matthews ‘do you see that tree just out there with the enormous buds on its branches?’
Katy nodded, as her mouth was full of scone.
‘Inside each of those buds, tiny leaves are growing, although the tree looks so bare at present. When the time is just right, the buds will burst, releasing the leaves so that they can grow and cover the tree with green once again. I look at those buds and think that God is promising that, whatever happens, the spring will always come again bringing lots of new growth, warmth and sunlight’.
‘I never thought of that’ said Katy.
‘Most trees have wonderful buds that burst into leaves as the spring comes. And there’s another lovely thing too. Do you see those little snowdrops growing under the tree? They are completely white and look like the snow, which is why they are called ‘snowdrops’. However, when the flower completely opens, if you look inside, you will see a beautiful little star at the very centre surrounded by a tiny circle of green. I always think that this is God’s promise that after the white snow of winter, the greenness of the spring will come again’.
‘I’ve never looked inside a snowdrop’ marvelled Katy.
Just then, the room seemed to brighten and they both looked up to see the sun peeking from behind the clouds. It was still raining however but suddenly Katy spotted a magnificent rainbow forming in the sky.
‘Oh, look!’ she said ‘isn’t that beautiful!’
‘And that’s another promise’ laughed Mrs. Matthews.
‘Oh yes. You see when things go a bit wrong in our lives, it’s almost like the rain coming. And yet after the rain, the sun always shines again, so we know that this is God’s promise that happiness will come back to us again after things have been difficult. And sometimes when it’s still raining something very beautiful happens, like the rainbow we’re seeing now’.
‘How do you mean?’ Katy was puzzled.
‘Well’ said Mrs. Matthews. ‘You know that I broke my ankle last month. It was very painful and now I’m just hobbling about, unable to get out or do the usual things I enjoy. But I’ve discovered how very thoughtful people are. Neighbours drove me to the hospital, then popped in to see me, others have brought my shopping and done lots of little jobs around the house which I haven’t been able to do. And your dear mother has been so very kind, cooking pies and cakes for me. So you see, through all the difficulties and pain of my ankle, there has been the beautiful rainbow of people’s kindness shining through’.
Katy felt rather ashamed. She hadn’t realised before how difficult it had been for Mrs. Matthews. She couldn’t go out even if the sun was shining! And her mother too must have been terribly tired with a new baby as well as the family to look after and doing a job too. But she had still found time to bake little treats for Mrs. Matthews, even if she had to do it before breakfast.
‘Why don’t you run along now dear?’ Mrs. Matthews interrupted her thoughts. ‘The sun is beginning to dry up all the rain and I’m sure you’d like to go out cycling with your friends’.
‘Yes, thank you, Mrs. Matthews’ said Katy. ‘And I won’t hate February in the future’ she laughed. ‘I’ll just think of it as ‘the month of promises!’
‘I won’t be so selfish either’ she thought as she cycled back home. Just as she turned the corner, she noticed some snowdrops growing on the bank. She couldn’t resist stopping to look at them. They were just beginning to open and, as she looked inside one, she saw the beautiful little star in the middle surrounded by pale green just as Mrs. Matthews had described.
‘God’s promise!’ she thought. ‘Spring will soon be here!’