Nancy Culver came to church last Sunday, and she gave me a hat.
Not that remarkable a sentence, to be honest. Rather ordinary. Unless you know some things…
First thing - Nancy lives an hour and half away. She usually goes to Harper Chapel United Methodist Church in Osage Beach, Missouri, and so her commute to Campbell here in Springfield was pretty long, just to come to church.
Second thing - I hadn’t seen Nancy in a long time. Years, maybe. She and her husband Bill were volunteers in the youth ministry at Harper Chapel when I was a youth there. Taught Sunday School, went on float trips, showed us what it means to love people. I had seen them here and there since then, of course. But during my youth years was when they made the deepest impression on me. We’re talking thirty, thirty-five years ago!
Third thing - the hat is a St. Louis Cardinals hat. I root for the Kansas City Royals, which has been a big “thing” since I announced we are moving to St. Louis. All these Cardinals fans that I know and love have been trying to convert me. All the good-natured teasing I have received translates as loving gestures of “wish you well,” and I definitely received this gift in that same spirit. When Nancy gave me the hat, she was saying, “I am proud of you, and I love you.”
Fourth thing - the hat was Bill’s old hat. Bill died recently, and so many of us grieved his loss, remembered his laugh, and recalled the joy with which he approached the world and the love he so freely shared with the people in his life. And to think that this old hat has been perched on Bill’s head, the very head that was filled with such wonder and color and art. To wear Bill’s hat on my head is humbling and poignant and brings me a whole lot of happiness.
So yeah. Nancy Culver came to church last Sunday, and she gave me a hat. No big deal. Except it really, really was.
Thank you, Sunshine.