Thank you!

Here’s another reflection from Summer 2008 – the message is still relevant…

‘Thank you’. Such a small word, yet how irritating when it’s not forthcoming. Especially when you’ve put yourself out for someone.

I seem to spend my days reminding F to say ‘thank you’, in the hope that one day he’ll get it. Sometimes he volunteers it without prompting, and it gives a warm feeling I can tell you.

The other day I was cycling home from work; it’s a long slog, 12 miles, mostly uphill, but I can do it pretty quick these days! In fact, I pride myself in being as quick or quicker than any other cyclist I see and usually manage to get home in 40 minutes or so, without breaking the law… But pride is a dangerous thing.

About half way home I caught up a guy who was riding at a fair pace… I hesitated and contemplated how good it would be to slipstream for a while and catch my breath, but I so hate ‘wheelsuckers’ that I decided to pass him, knowing that I’d maybe end up giving him a tow instead.

As I passed and chirped an ‘evenin’, he grimaced, and then sure enough, did his best to latch on. Rudely, I didn’t ease up, and I dropped him after a few minutes. The lights were against me though in Finchley, so as I waited and had a drink, he caught up, breathing heavily. On green, we pedalled away, and again, I dropped him, this time on the descent… Towards the bottom, I eased off, after all, I still had a few miles to ride. He caught me again and sat on my back wheel.

And there he stayed, for the next few miles. Not a word, and no offer of doing a turn into the grinding headwind as we pedalled towards Whetsone and beyond… I carried on, cursing him in my head and wondering whether he’d jump me and race off. Some recognition of my work would be courteous, I thought. Even an offer of a turn would be a nice gesture. I was getting angrier and angrier, and began pushing those pedals harder…

And then I heard a gasped ‘thank you, mate’…

I looked around, somewhat surprised. ‘You’re welcome, mate’ I smiled. Hypocrite, I thought.

‘I’d never have made it home without that tow – really appreciate it’ he gasped again.

Embarrassed, I smiled again. But less awkwardly this time. ‘Cheers. Ride safe’ I called. And he sat up to freewheel down the A1000, while I put my head down and rode away.

As I neared home, my conscience was pricked. I wondered at which point I’d begun making my generosity conditional upon being thanked. Do I always do that? I resolved to be a little little less hasty to judge next time…

And I reflected further… it strikes me that often our generosity is conditional, and we end up making our kind acts dependent on some kind of return. This is not a good place to be. So I pray, may we not tire of being generous in spirit, and may our random acts of kindness be offered ‘on credit’, secure in the knowledge that God knows the heart.

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