Someone I didn’t know very well died last week. She was important to me. She was not famous. But she was faithful, generous, and beautiful. She was Pat.
Decades ago, Pat went to a Billy Graham crusade, and became a Christian.* From the time that Pat decided to follow Jesus, she never gave up doing so. She joined a church. It happens to be the same one you will find me in fairly frequently. Despite difficulties with her health, and her advancing years, Pat was extremely faithful and attentive to that church. She was still attending up until a few weeks ago, at the age of ninety. When I say attentive, I mean to play on the word. Because, while Pat attended church regularly, she was also attentive to the needs of the people she came into contact with through that place.
I didn’t know this until today: Pat was a prayer warrior. She prayed often, faithfully. She prayed for people’s babies when they were born. She prayed for the children. She prayed for any need that she knew that anyone had. For decades. And because of that she prayed for me, and for my brother.
I’m new in town. I moved here in January. But I’ve lived here before. My parents and I lived here when I was a toddler. We happened to attend the same church that I’ve been talking about. And my brother was born here. Pat was here then. I find it staggering, really. Not just that someone would go to the same church for half their life. But that someone would so selflessly, quietly pray for so many people.
Years ago, Pat started praying for more men. Not for herself (!) If you’ve ever been in an Anglican church, you’ll know that the common demographic doesn’t include as many men as the general population. Also, most men tend to be older. Pat decided that she would pray for more young men to be involved at her church. She knew how brilliant men’s contributions can be – to friendships, acquaintance-ships, families. So she prayed. Looking around the chairs this morning (I was going to say pews, but we’ve modernised), I could see at a glance how God had answered Pat’s prayers in this matter. Lots of lads. Masses of men. Great gobs of grandfather-figures. Awesome.
My brother, who would’ve been one of the Pat-prayed-for babies, is also an awesome man. I’m not crediting Pat entirely with that. I’m just saying.
Tuesday will see our church filled with people celebrating Pat’s life. Ninety years of being gorgeous. One of her last requests was for flowers, especially yellow ones. So tomorrow I’m going to raid my garden of every last daffodil and jonquil I can find. I’m also going to prune my just-flowering magnolia. Take down a boot-full of blooms for Pat.
No more pain for Pat. Just meeting her saviour and hearing, “Well done, good and faithful servant”.
* (For the modern Christian, finding Jesus via Billy has retro appeal, in the same way that vintage apparel does. Ten or fifteen years ago, it would’ve been considered daggy. I love how that happens.)