I learn something new. I have always been a keen reader of the Bible, not particularly in a religious sense. I have said, elsewhere, that I am not, by nature a church person preferring to believe in a Christian God, rather than any particular church. My love affair with the Bible, if I may refer to it in those terms, began at school when I started learning Ancient Greek and the first words I was able to translate were the words which begin the New Testament - " In the beginning was the Word", and since then, I have delighted in feeling the elegance, the poetic words of the King James' version flow over me like pure, clear water.
So despite the odd looks occasionally from my family, I have delighted in discussing the Bible with the lady from two streets down who knocks on my door nearly every Sunday and sometimes in between. She usually has one or two of her children with her, who, whatever their age, wait patiently in the rain, or the sunshine while she talks to me. She is, I believe, a Jehovah's witness, or may not be. I don't honestly know as we don't specifically talk about religion. We talk of the bible: she quotes and I listen and I find her faith and knowledge honourable and open. She will give me a leaflet claiming that the sick will be healed or that the meek will inherit the Earth and when I shut the door, despite the initial exasperation I may feel from having been interrupted from some minor task deep in the broom cupboard, I always feel connected and somehow invigorated. That the small engagement of conversation and chat about something which isn't ordinary or mundane is like a refreshing drink or a chocolate bar - a quick spiritual pick me up before becoming, once more, drowned by the voices of ordinary life.
She has seen me change through the Summer where I answered the door in the sunshine, full flowing hair down to my waist, through Autumn, as it fell like the leaves around my shoulders to my stark bare current state, and each time, she is as concerned as any of my friends. Only last week, she had her 15 year old son with her and I offered to coach him with his school work if she wanted me to.. She was touched and said so and we had between us one of those minutes of silence that fill up, fill up with emotion, with a wave of feeling that neither refers to, but both know..
Today, the doorbell rang again. I was tired, and brittle after staying up all night and opened the door in a bit of a fluster determined to be brief. But there she was, and in her hands, a bouquet of flowers of beautiful, vibrant oranges, pinks and yellows that glowed in the dull grey of a winter's day in London when the sun doesn't even come out. These shone in her hands, as brightly as the eyes of her children. She told me she had brought them for me, because I was an 'inspiration', I had taught her to 'keep on going, even when it was hard', and as she pressed the flowers into my hands with the customary leaflet on how 'God shall heal the sick', I nearly wept.
They are still shining now, in a vase in my kitchen, and as they illuminate my dull, winter-drenched home, as they shine into the dark corners of my room, I remember the power of words on a doorstep...
Cancer has taught me that little gestures mean a great deal...