'…..and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.' These are the closing words of 'Middlemarch' about which I wrote last week. And they seem a fitting tribute to some of the characters in the book.
But more than that, these words reflect a truth which I hope would be universally recognised. I think of Simeon and particularly Anna, there in the Temple when it came to Jesus' presentation as a child. Probably they were people whom regular worshippers there might half-recognise- 'I think they were here last time I came...' but whose faithfulness and constancy in worship would have largely passed unnoticed. We surmise from the gospel account they virtually lived in the Temple precincts. But their life was hidden from view to their generation. As it is from ours; apart from the brief incident which Luke records, we know no more.
Yet they added something to the story. A gladness they had seen God's anointed one, a prophetic voice warning Mary of pain to come because of this child, a foreseeing something of the trajectory of Jesus' life. And then they sink into the gospel narrative; we hear no more of them.
I'd like my life, indeed, every Christian's life, to be like that; a faithful life, hidden and not showy, adding to the stock of good in the world. The rest doesn't matter.