I will not be preaching about John the Baptist tomorrow, but I have been thinking about his wild honey habit and the sweetness of such mercies found along the way.
Each of my mothers, who were both called Ann(e), had a brother named John (my adoption story has been filled with odd coincidences; almost as though it had been written for me). Uncle John was a loud, boisterous man who spent each Friday night at the Working Men’s Club and grew runner beans. He died Christmas Day on the eve of the new millennium.
I met the other John at the baptism of our youngest daughter. It was Mothering Sunday, and every kind of mother you could imagine was present. My mothers met one another for the first time. I met my birth grandmother for the first time. My mother-in-law, my daughter’s godmother, all sorts of mothers met up, and I with my daughter, my youngest.
Uncle John hadn’t known about the baby at the time, and everyone in the family had assumed that some time in the intervening three decades, someone must have told him about me, but no one did, so it came as rather a shock to him when I was reintroduced to the family. John is the family genealogist, and he knew all there was to know about everyone, except this.
He came to the christening with a jar of honey, complete with waxy comb, harvested from his own bees. As we ate it, the children and I, we talked about bees, and colonies, and communities. We talked about families, and we tasted the sweet honeycomb. We talked about welcome, and embrace, and the surprising sweetness of unlooked-for mercies encountered along the way.