by Bruce and Gwenneth Leane
Chapter Four: Memories
A LESSON IN GRACE (an excerpt)
In the mid-1930s when money was very tight, uppermost in the minds of my friends and me was how to get some pocket money. Quite suddenly, we found a solution.
‘Hey, you boys, I found the door to the Institute is unlocked. Shall we take a look after school?’ I suggested mostly out of curiosity to start with.
‘Yeah,’ the group chorused. Nobody needed a second invitation. ‘We’ll meet at the back of the Hall in the pines so no one can see us,’ one of the boys added.
‘Yeah,’ the group shouted. Our plans made, we could hardly wait for school to be over. One of the boys turned the latch and the door opened.
‘Look here,’ someone called and we clustered around to look at old pictures stashed in a corner. ‘
‘The stage curtains don’t work,’ someone else remarked when trying out the curtain ropes. We went through that hall with a fine toothcomb.
‘Look at this, boys,’ someone breathlessly exclaimed. The group rushed to see what he had found. ‘Wow!’ everyone exclaimed in one breath. Our eyes bulged at all the drink bottles packed in under the stage of the Mount Compass Hall.
‘What are they kept here for?’
‘They’re used to sit prize cut flowers in when the Show is on.’
‘Nobody would know if we took the Woodroofe drink bottles, would they?’
‘Nah! We would only sell a couple at a time now and again.’
‘How much do you reckon we’ll get for a bottle from Mrs Beaumont’s store?’
‘About a penny each,’ another of the lads suggested.
‘Phew! That’s big money.’ We could taste the globs of sweetness on our tongues.
‘Next year when the Show is on they’ll wonder where the bottles went but it’ll be too late then.’
‘We’ll share the lollies, won’t we?’
‘Yeah! We’ll share. Who’s goin’ to be the first to take a couple in?’
‘I will,’ was an eager reply. We made several trips to the store trembling like jellies. It worked very well and we were getting away with it successfully until …
One day we were down weeding the vegetable patch with Dad when he said,
‘Listen, boys, I would like your help, I’ve just been told that some bottles have been going missing from the local hall, which seems very strange. As you know, I am the Secretary of the Show Society. Now you know everybody at school if you hear anything about bottles going missing would you please let me know. The bottles are not very valuable but we would like it stopped.’
‘Yes Dad, OK, Dad, we’ll listen around.’ Pete and I chorused. Looking like the three monkeys: Hear no evil, think no evil and do no evil. We could not wait to catch up with the rest of the gang.
‘Hey you blokes, we’ve been found out. Don’t take in any more bottles. Dad is the Secretary of the Show and he’ll raise a stink. We’ll cop it from him.’
‘I bet Mrs Beaumont potted on us, the old bag.’
‘Yeah, that’d be right.’ We listened very well and funnily enough, no more bottles walked. I have never forgotten the incident. It was my Dad’s love for his two sons, to teach us and then forget our crimes, not holding them against us. ‘That’s like you Lord?’ I thought as I meditated in later life, on the incident. ‘Yes,’ the Father God seemed to say, ‘my only son has taken your crimes and misbehaviour upon himself so that they are no longer held against you ever again. That’s how great my love is for you.’
‘Lord, what kind of love is that?’ I asked. A love so vast and deep was hard to comprehend. ‘It’s called unearned favour,’ the Father God replied. How good is that? Dad never mentioned the incident again. Yet it was among one of the first experiences of a father’s unconditional love that I remember and which revealed God’s, unconditional love. The incident shaped my life.
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