As a boy

I picked up a set of sergeant stripes this afternoon…hoping to make a few, so we’ve bought some stripes. Anyway…reminded me of Jean.

Jean was my Songster Sergeant at my home corps, Kilmarnock…probably still is if she hasn’t gone to Glory. When I was there she would probably have been in her mid to late 60s. She was very quiet, softly spoken. A slightly uneasy person in conversation, but with a strong motherly interest.

Back in the day, I used to get a bus to the Army on a Sunday and to pretty much everything that was on in the week. I’d often meet Jean on the bus because she lived in the next village to me. She’d have her same usual questions every week. 1)How are you son? and 2) how are things at home?

I’d tell her. Her response was always ‘yes, I’ll pray about that’ and I’ve no doubt she did.

I used to sit in the band in the meetings, on the euphonium bench…only a trombonist away from the Mercy Seat and I’d often go. I needed to. I had pain that I couldn’t deal with, difficulties I couldn’t face, realities to harsh. I’d go and cry and cry and cry to the Lord and he’d meet me there.

Of course, Jean came too. Not the recruiting sergeant or the songster leader or even the officer, or any one else really, but Sergeant Jean. And she’d speak so quietly I’d never actually hear what she said in prayer, but she prayed and the Spirit ministered.

I’d get up from the Mercy Seat, pick up my Euphonium and play the last tune through blurred eyes and I’d often watch Jean standing opposite in the songsters standing very still, not always singing, sharing a burden with me. There were others like Jean who supported me in those times, but I am not sure there were others who carried my burden in quite the same way as she did.

At training college, I wrote her a letter. It had very few words. Just a thank you, because thats all I needed to say…she knew the rest.

Relationship. Fellowship. Community. Care. Empathy. Love. But the greatest of these is love.

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