Yesterday when I wrote my post Grieve with those that Grieve, I had no idea how close to home that would come. I heard last night that a dear friend of mine was killed in the Christchurch quake. He was working out in his garden when a rock from the nearby cliff fell on him. He was 82 and had lived rich life but it still makes me grieve deeply, not just for his family but for all that lost loved ones in this disaster.
Don and his wife Jocelyn were the first to draw me into a community of believers. They rescued me from the austerity of the medical residents’ quarters at Christchurch hospital where I was working and offered me a place to live. I was a complete stranger but they opened their homes and their hearts to me. And I was one of many that they opened their home to. The last time I was in Christchurch I stayed with Don and Jocelyn. They had just had a Japanese businessman staying with them. Jocelyn had met him while shopping in Christchurch and invited him home.
As I thought about this today I wondered Where would I be without Don and Jocelyn? Their welcome and inclusion of a stranger set my feet on an new path that eventually led to my call to the mercy ship Anastasis, my time in the refugee camps in Thailand and eventually my marriage to Tom and the wonderful life that I lead now. I doubt that I would be such an advocate for community today if it were not for the foundations that they laid in my life. And I wonder if my faith would have endured and become as strong as it is today without their open hospitality, strong encouragement and supportiveness.
Part of what this has done (and probably also a symptom of turning 60) is made me look back on my own life and ask the question: What legacy do I want to leave behind? My prayer this morning is that when God calls me home I too can leave behind strangers as well as friends who have known God’s hospitality through my life. May God welcome me as I am sure God has welcomed Don into a loving embrace with the words: Well done good and faithful servant