What is Love? (Part of the Secret Santa Blog-yet not so secret as this is still me)

 “We often write about love? Yet what is this love we talk about so effortlessly?”

The Sunday of the week of the general, district and parish elections in the UK, I arrived in Church, as usual, 10 minutes late. I hurried through the cafe area where it struck me: “It’s my turn to do coffee”.  A friend had asked me to swap coffee duty, days earlier. I agreed and then instantly forgot; until; that moment, when I saw the hatch firmly closed and no sign of mugs and biscuits.

As I arrived there was a lull in the service with everyone looking at grafted jars. I bundled myself into my seat at the back next to my Mum. The service was about the Vine and being grafted or pruned or both. There was a festival going on outside which also caused a slight stir as someone had come inside to use the toilet. I whispered to my Mum regarding my plight. During the service I decided what to do. In the last hymn, I dashed out to buy milk from the One Stop shop. I ran back, hot and breathless, in the hope that no-one would notice.

It might have worked. Except unfortunately the boiler had not been turned on. My Mum tried to defend me. “The boiler just isn’t working” she cried. Except it was, it was just slow to heat up. So the people began standing in a queue and I had to accept defeat and usher them back to their seats to wait for the water to become hot.

The boiler is the site of a previous misdemeanour. Once, when I was new to the coffee rota I had forgotten to switch the boiler on before the service. On this occasion I did not realise the mistake until I had served the first person with a completely cold coffee which she whisked away before I could stop her. It was only after she had gone that I realised there was something odd about the way the water and milk had settled in the mug. It hadn’t looked right. Then I discovered the water was cold. With all the people milling about I couldn’t quite place who the first person was and so never rectified her cold coffee.

Again in that instance, there was a delay in serving out the coffee while the boiler warmed up. The efficient and organised Church stewards looked aghast. However, they spared my blushes, and ever since had ensured that they turn the boiler on as soon as they arrive. It just so happened that the day of my bad memory, was the very day that the person who is usually there to switch on the boiler, was out marshalling a boundary walk.

Finally the water was heated. So there I was, my 86-year-old mum standing beside me, stoical and loyal and helping out by putting the coffee grains into mugs; another kind person from the coffee rota was placing biscuits on the plate; and all the folks were chatty and friendly as they queued up again. I, still flustered as eventually I served them, and racing to make up time, splashed hot water about and spilt milk on the worktop,  apologising profusely to all and sundry. This time the organised and  highly efficient folk  who are always early or on time, hardly turned a hair. They asked how my husband was doing with finding employment and even sympathised with me saying; “We know you’ve got a lot on!”

“ Let love be real, in giving and receiving, without the need to manage and to own; a haven free from posing and pretending, where every weakness may be safely known. Give me your hand, along the desert pathway, give me your love wherever we may go.

As God loves us, so let us love each other; with no demands, just open hands and space to grow.

(Michael Forster (1946-) Copyright 1995 Kevin Mayhew Ltd

How does this fit in with the Secret Santa Blog day? Well, I acknowledge, I have had a lot on, so I couldn’t guarantee that I could write a post in time to email secretly to someone-else. Yet I longed to be part of it. So I asked Paul at


as to whether I could join in, if I had time, by posting my post at exactly the same time as all the others and seeing whether it fitted in with the theme of everyone-else. This was his reply:

Not only OK, but quite inspirational!! Thank you!! You (again) broaden my mind: working within this “Secret Santa” structure? Not even relevant. Connected in our Lord? Oh yes – always!! Your words (again) touch in a very special way. To be part of this in a way that works for you, is right for you – but still be a part of this …. ? Kind of is the essence I was drawn to – before my “logistic brain” took over! 🙂 So, dear Julia, thank you!!

Is this answer and all the above reactions, an experience of Love? I will let you, dear Reader, be the judge of that.


About Gentle Breeze

Julia is married to Kevin. They live together in Todmorden with their black and white cat Willow. Todmorden is a small rural town nestling among the Pennine hills in the Upper Calder Valley, on the border of West Yorkshire and Lancashire. Julia is a mixture of contradictions. She happily shares her email address with her husband; yet when she married she kept her own surname.
This entry was posted in Christianity, Reflections, Spirituality and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to What is Love? (Part of the Secret Santa Blog-yet not so secret as this is still me)

  1. paulfg says:

    Reblogged this on Just me being curious and commented:
    “Secret Santa Blog Day” addition – a very special addition! Thank you Julia ((hugs))

  2. paulfg says:

    Julia – you are amazing in a most wonderful way! Thank you so much! ((hugs))

  3. Little Monk says:

    I love this post. Two things come across so humanly… One, the gracious acceptance of those around us, who love us. Two, our own incredible self-consciousness when we find ourselves less than perfect! (I SO do the same thing… let anyone ELSE be frail or faulty and I haven’t the least problem with that, but let ME have a problem or “technical difficulties”, and the sky is falling!

    Your church seems to “get the point” wonderfully. as Paul advised…”let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another…” God bless an “encouraging church”!

    Grace — LM

    • Thank you. I am not sure my church in this little part of the UK has given ‘gracious acceptance’ of difficulty and difference, every time. No church is perfect. However on this occasion, it was very evident to me that it did! And, yes, I can be very self-conscious of my faults. I read recently about two types of “perfectionists”: those who want “other” people to be perfect, and can be very tricky and even dangerous to others when they don’t match up; and those who easily accept others imperfections and yet give themselves a very hard time! I am of the second type! Fortunately, I have gradually discovered that God loves me despite my striving to be perfect; and gave me a weakness, which stops me achieving it; which keeps me grounded and humble and able to laugh at my foolish efforts! Yes, and encouragement! I am all for encouragement!
      Thanks for yours. Julia

  4. realchange4u says:

    Bless you!

    Peace to you

  5. Pingback: Secret Santa Blog Day – the Roll Call | Just me being curious

  6. kbailey374 says:

    Wonderful! thank you. I am a kindred spirit as in, even if I write something in my calendar, inevitably I will still mess it up – esp. in situations where I think it matters (but often is NOT the crisis that I fear it to be) lol… Keep on keeping on! GOD bless you!

    • Thank you. I enjoy meeting a kindred spirit. It helps me to feel I am not alone, (in the human sense). Cheers! Thanks for the encouragement. Peace and blessings.

  7. Great post Julia. I am often the one who agrees to do something and then the day of am standing around with a question mark atop my head! Just last week I promised cake for a graduation and the night before I am mixing and backing after the dutiful mom remembered to remind me.
    I pray all is well with you. I hadn’t “seen” you lately but I hadn’t been on WP much bogged down with life “stuff.” Peace and Blessings to you. I’m so glad you were able to “secret santa” 🙂

    • Oh, that sounds so familiar. I don’t even pretend to do the baking; remembering to buy a few additional ingredients for a shared lunch is challenge enough in itself! as this last thursday when I was preparing a green salad in our works kitchen when everything else was nicely presented and on the table. Yes, life has been very “full on” with me lately and I have missed commenting on WP as i have had only snatched moments to read posts.I was glad I was just able to join in secret santa too.Hopefully all will be revealed soon.
      I loved your recent post called “Bloom”.
      Love, peace and hope to you and yours, Julia

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