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Barbecues and BlessingsMay 8, 2013
It is hard to believe that it is almost four years since my precious brother and beloved friend John Kavelin winged his way to the spiritual realm. People would say to me during the first year of my rather overwhelming grief that there was more joy on the other side once one emerges from the sorrow. The timing was off for me. What helped more was when people met me right where I was, not over-sympathizing but simply acknowledging the reality of my experience. Yet I must confess, there is great truth and therefore hope, in discovering that when one plunges deeply into loss and rides through those seemingly relentless waves, one does encounter new shores. We can indeed build a richer, fuller life after a death. What makes that possible?
I believe it is choosing to live to the fullest, whatever that means to each person. Realizing the fact that our time passes so swiftly on this earth enhances the breaths we take and gives us a new hunger to drain the cup before we pass on.
And it must have an element of service, of personal usefulness, therefore of meaning, to sustain authentic joy rather than mere indulgence in pleasure, or it can spiral into a desperate attempt to rekindle desire. If we set out to fulfill our "bucket list", it must have meaning for others to be a truly abiding source of joy. I have witnessed such sparkling delight in the faces of those who are doing community service in one form or another, whether a six year old first grader who is sending a prized teddy bear to a child in Bangladesh, a retiree sharing his or her time, love or wisdom with others, or a family I recently met who gather goods and goodies (from school supplies and tooth brushes to toys and books) throughout the year to bring to a third world community.
Dan and I are beginning to find our place and purpose in this, our new, chosen community in the midmost heart of the Pacific in Aitutaki, Cook Islands. The welcome people are giving us comes in the form of invitations to "oomus" – the traditional underground roasting of a pig with kumera and other delicacies – or to share fish or sausages "on the barbie" along with continual gifts from their gardens of enormous avocados, whole hands of bananas, or a bowl full of passion fruit. We share our own special purchases from the tiny markets with new friends as well long chats on our veranda over Dan’s fresh made lemonade.
Early last Saturday morning we got a call inviting us to a blessing breakfast to christen a couple’s new expanded garden – yes there is ALWAYS food at these gatherings. The pastor was a large man who had stood behind me at the Anzac Day church celebration surrounding me with his deep baritone as they sang traditional hymns. He remembered me from the smile I gave him when I turned around and whispered, "Thank you." The view from their huge deck was a panorama of the pristine Aitutaki lagoon. Enormous flame trees embraced the edges of their home. It was a bit early for Dan, so I went alone bearing watermelon and a listening ear.
People everywhere want to be seen, to be known, to have their stories heard, and the meaning of their lives valued and honoured. Thus far, that is the gift Dan and I are giving, along with an occasional Virtues Pick, which people seem to love.
An endearing expression here for something really great is "Choice!" Whenever I hear it, I am reminded, yes it is always our choice, to bring sweetness into the lives of others, thus bringing savour to our own.