Uncovering buried treasure and priceless opportunities
IT is no secret that I abhor paperwork, writes Rev Andrew Watson.
Which is probably why the treasures I discovered today in an old box file have remained buried for so long.
Item one is a letter from a former Taoiseach. It probably constitutes an historical 'primary source' now, as it was written in 1998 after the Good Friday Agreement was signed.
I had written to a number of the leaders involved to thank them for their efforts for peace and assure them of our prayers.
I remember being quite tickled that the leader of the Republic sent me several paragraphs warmly signed in biro with his first name.
It's a reminder that politics is necessary - and that it sometimes works.
I am thankful that we've progressed a distance from the days of the Troubles in which I grew up, that our children grew up with relative peace and safety.
As Bertie wrote in his letter, "Thank God."
Item two is a ticket stub from an open air gig in 2006 when Eric Clapton played in the Amphitheatre Verona, Italy.
It was a proverbial hot summer night, the smooth, ancient stones still warm under a full moon as the rock icon played and sang, "Layla, you got me on my knees..."
And, again, I'm thankful. Thankful for the music. For sometimes we need a soundtrack for our hearts, a vehicle that both sinks deep and soars heavenward, a fiery sound chariot on which to ride and express our blues, our joy and our pain.
Item three is a very basic home-made card, a piece of paper folded in half.
On the front a child has drawn in pencil a cross and some hearts.
Inside, in scrawly, beginner's writing, this child has written to her minister to tell him she loves God and Jesus.
That minister was me and nothing else comes close to this last priceless treasure.
It speaks to me of grace, that Jesus still loves little children - and bigger, older ones too.
And more than anything I am thankful for the opportunities I have been given over many years and in various parishes to speak to people of all ages about the grace and love that are found in my Master Jesus.
God-willing I shall continue to do so until the day He calls me home.
The Rev Andrew Watson is due to be installed as the minister of the Presbyterian congregation at Cairncastle, Co Antrim on Sunday December 13.