That night it snowed and the next morning when we went to the post box at the bottom of the road we found two, very tatty, old slippers on the path in the snow. My wife was deeply moved not so my daughters who declared it to be a ‘plant’ and a typical ‘witches trick’ to win sympathy. But the next day we received beautiful Christmas cards from Hilda which turned the tables, just, and so the girls went and asked if she would like to join us for Christmas. Of course she accepted with alacrity.
When she arrived at about midday on Christmas morning we could hardly believe our eyes. Hilda was wearing a beautiful silk dress with a multi-coloured shawl draped around her, her hair was coiffured in an almost glamourous manner and she was carrying a large, ornamented leather bag which was full of wonderful presents. A lunch she showed how much she appreciated it all by accepting two helpings of everything and indeed, three of Christmas pudding.
After lunch she said she hoped we would play some games but suggested that perhaps a musical interlude would be acceptable. When she started to play our old German piano we were ‘gob smacked’ by her skill and artistry. She played all sorts of music for the next two hours and then the girls played and we all sang Christmas carols. After tea we played games until ten o’clock when, as it was snowing and Hilda was a little weary we all escorted her home. When she entered her ‘tumble- down’ bungalow the girls were crying because of all the bad things they had said about this wonderful, talented person who had given them the best Christmas ever.
No, we should not judge by appearances but we would benefit from the teaching of Gregory of Nyssa and try and cultivate the organs of ‘mystical perception’ by which we can attune ourselves to the ‘gift of grace’ in our neighbour.