Major Kathy Woodhouse’s appointment to Chatham has ended and she now takes up a new appointment at Thornton Heath, in South London. In her final blog she has this to say:
Parting is such sweet sorrow’ – that’s the thought Shakespeare expressed in Romeo and Juliet, but what do you think?
Over the last few days I have been in the process of parting from all that’s familiar and comfortable, in order to proceed to a new appointment. And, as the saying implies, there are varied emotions.
It’s not particularly difficult to leave a place – but to leave people is another thing entirely. And the reasons are as varied as you could imagine.
I think of the people in the church who were particularly kind to me when my dog died shortly after I arrived in Chatham; my next door neighbour, always willing to take in the parcels from SP&S Ltd, which inevitably arrive when I’m not at home, and to lend her brown wheelie when there’s too much garden refuse for mine alone.
I think of the people whose families have lost loved ones during my stay. Of the intimate involvement in the lives of those who are bereaved as I have tried to bring some comfort from the Word of God. I especially think of baby Abigail, and the sense (as one friend put it) of the Army at its best’ as everyone seemed to rally round to help her distraught family.
I think of the other newborn babies, who have brought so much pleasure into the lives of their families, and whom it has been my privilege to dedicate to God for his service. And of the children and adults who have found a faith in God and become members of our church family.
I think of those whose lives have been touched by sorrow and circumstances difficult to understand and the joy of watching them recover and learn from their experiences, growing closer to God in the process.
I think of those whose lives have been devastated by drugs and alcohol, of the desire to help them to turn their lives around, and of the disappointment when the addiction has proved overwhelming and they have been unwilling or unable to escape its captivity.
I am reminded, again, of the name given to the Session of cadets with whom I trained, Servants of Jesus, and recall the anonymous quote which says, God did not save you to be a sensation. He saved you to be a servant’.
It has been my privilege to serve in the Corps and in the community of Chatham, and as I move on, the story of the little boy walking along the beach with his grandfather comes to mind. Hundreds of starfish were stranded on the beach, and they were drying out in the blazing sun. The little boy started to pick them up, one at a time, and then walked to the water’s edge and put the starfish back into the sea. His granddad looked at all the hundreds of starfish and said to the boy, Come on, you’re never going to make a difference to all those starfish!’ But the boy replied, No, but I can make a difference to this one’, as he lowered it into the sea.
Yes, parting is such sweet sorrow because people make a difference to one’s life. My prayer is that God will have used my life, over the last four years, to make a difference to theirs.