I met her a few years ago.
It was a friend’s birthday. Sue hosted ‘Chocolat’ in her ‘Schoenmakerskop’ home. She introduced us to slow food, as she was introduced to it long ago.
It was a warm encounter.
An embracing one as we made pasta together from scratch.
Encounters affect me.
It is when I spend time with people that I become more. That I am challenged. That my being expand & ‘becomes’.
It is in being, with other people, that I learn to make sense of life.
Perhaps we need to be open to this?
Perhaps our own idea that we have the answers prevent us from tasting this?
Sue was the fourth generation of her family to be born in India. Growing up she experienced Ceylon, Uganda, Tanganyika and Kenya where most of her formative years were lived.
When I met her she had lost her husband.
She had lost her son.
She had lost a vibrant community project through which she was hoping to bring hope to hopeless people.
Perhaps a dream had been lost.
A hope with regards to how life would be.
But ‘hope’ had not been lost.
The person I met did not personify loss.
Perhaps that is what has been drawing me to Sue.
Her life, not destroyed by loss, but lived amidst it.
Since our first encounter, full moons had come and gone. ‘Chocolat’ with the roar of the ocean on its doorstep had given way to an explorer’s existence in Australia. Sue & her new husband discovering every bit of this continent which is a country.
Yesterday we had some time together again.
Sue came back to South Africa, for a short moment, to provide support with family illness.
She had time to spend with us.
I am grateful when people have time to spend with me.
Time is the one thing which equalizes everything.
We all have the same amount of it.
It is our most precious resource.
The most precious of gifts entrusted to us.
Sue came for supper & this time we made pasta for her.
As we rolled the dough we spoke about life.
About where she’d been.
About what she’d seen.
Often we raise our children to understand ‘consequences’, but about resilience we do not teach them.
Perhaps we’re ill-equipped.
If you do not eat your food, you’ll be malnourished, you might get sick & even die.
If you spend all your money on luxuries you may not have money left for necessities.
If you spend all your time on play, you might end-up not doing what you need to do, or not having enough time to do it.
If you share your life with destructive people, you might be destroyed.
Perhaps we do not even raise our children to understand consequences.
Except in the most rudimentary way.
Be careful, you might fall & hurt yourself.
Don’t do that, you’re going to break it.
There are a lot of things which have consequences.
If I do not study I might fail.
If I do not work I might not have food or a place to live.
If I do not invest in my relationships they will wither away & die.
But is the contrary true?
Is it really?
For I have seen people who do not work & yet they live like Kings.
I have seen others take the opportunity to study for granted & yet they excel.
I have seen some treat their supposed life-partners with immense disregard & yet they remain together, seemingly sharing life.
Happy even to the world watching from a distance.
Our actions do have consequences.
But sometimes we eat consequences which are far removed from our actions.
A husband dying when I am not even in my mid-forties.
A father dying before I reach my teens.
A job lost, not because I did not work hard, but because the economy turned or I could not live with my conscience.
It is when we are faced with these ‘consequences’ that we need to find inside of ourselves that indescribable resilience.
We will be faced with it.
My son & daughters.
It is how life unfolds.
Of this I’m sure.
It is the one undeniable reality.
And in these circumstances which overcome us, unsolicited, it is the one who is not overcome who will live another day.
After dinner I take Sue to Schoenmakerskop. Her last night in Port Elizabeth spent with friends. Driving home thoughts of life flood my heart. I envy Sue the life she now has. Traveling. Seeing new places. Meeting new people.
I do not envy her the loss.
I do not envy her the unsolicited consequence.
I thank the God whom I believe is sharing life with me for the opportunity to be connected to Zuko & my children & friends like Sue.
I ask him for resilience.
The ability to ‘be’ & ‘become’, not despite of loss, but amidst it.
I fall asleep with this in my mind: ‘Life is unpredictable. It is often sad. It is often completely different from what we hoped for. Yet it is only life if we embrace what we have & make of it the most we possibly can, as we share it with whom we are allowed to love.’
May you live.
May you find the resilience inside of yourself, from your own being or deposited there through grace, to embrace.
May you live.
Thank you, Sue.
If you’re interested, the original article I wrote on Sue’s life, for people talk magazine, can be read here: soul convergance