|Fifty-Three years ago, here in Takapuna, I remember meeting a woman named McDonald, as Marv C and I were going door to door. She invited us in to talk about the recent loss of her husband; about how much she missed him after almost fifty years of marriage.
Together, they loved roses and she continued to maintain a beautiful rose garden. With his cremated ashes she planted a very special one, and called it "McDonald Rose."
She said she saved some of his ashes, and occasionally some mornings, sprinkled a bit on her corn flakes, with sugar.
I thought it was weird, then, but kept my cool in order to support her, amid her acute sense of loss.
Perhaps I don't think her experience so weird, now, as I did then. Mostly, I am grateful for her openness; for her willingness to share herself and the intimacy of life experiences with strangers.
Earlier this week, briefly, I met a woman following a pre-Christmas service at the Methodist Church; I will call her S. to respect her identity. She confided how Christmas was such a time of great hurt for her; a time of being almost unable to bear the sense of loss. She told me about some years ago, wishing she could die one Christmas morning, and wading into the surf with the intent of suicide. Remarkably, she said, with practically no one on the beach but her, two strong swimmers appeared and rescued her, then took her to breakfast with them. What a remarkable story.
The next morning we passed one another at the bus stop, as she was on her way to Paihia to spend Christmas break. It was a bit like connecting with an old friend, and she told me how she felt God had brought me into her life the prior evening, momentarily, following the service at the Methodist Church.
Now it is Christmas morning In N.Z., very early, and in a few hours I will be rejoining the Takapuna Methodists for their Christmas celebration. What seems to be stuck in my head is perhaps a tie-together of all things from my N.Z. experiences and across my life, summed up remarkably by the Serenity Prayer.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.
From Takapuna--perhaps my favorite spot on the planet--MERRY CHRISTMAS!