Thought for the Week: The abacus

Elena Verigo reflects on precious 'beads' from God

It was the first time that I had to open the Meeting house to our Newbury Friends on a Sunday morning. I was chuffed. What a privilege! I had the keys, got some milk, three balls of vibrantly yellow chrysanthemums – ready to go. Carolyn said the flowers were meant to serve as a kind of a meditation object. What a revelation! I was convinced they were there just to look pretty and never once did I use them as a source of inspiration for contemplation.

I felt a bit mischievous. Now that I am the boss, I thought, why don’t I offer my Friends an additional object… something that is rather different from a flower or a candle – those universal symbols of sacred time with God.

Hmmm… I looked around my room. What could it be? My eyes fell on a small colourful abacus that I just got from a charity shop. I am a teacher, so it was meant for school. But, I thought, it could visit the Quakers on its way to the classroom.

I set the little coffee table in the middle of the Meeting room as usual (flowers, a few Bibles, a couple of copies of Advices & queries and my abacus!). Then I had to hide and wait. I was very impatient and desperate to hear if any one of the Friends found it in any way helpful.

What a joy it was to hear that my little ‘trick’ actually worked! When sharing thoughts and ideas with the group after the Meeting, Paul said he was rather puzzled when he walked into the room and saw my pretty little abacus on the table. It completely threw him, and he went on a beautiful journey into some distant memories. He remembered seeing someone use one in Russia, when he went on a visit there some years ago. Other people did not have such strong associations but many had positive feelings and were grateful for a little object that got their minds off the horrors that had been on the news recently.

How many precious little ‘beads’ from God do we miss in our daily lives? Stunning little things like lush autumn leaves, spider cobwebs decorated with droplets of rain, baby shoes and all the other treasures that God has given us to uplift the Spirit in the most challenging situations.

Where will you find your abacus today?

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