This was written just before Easter in 2003 when we lived in Karori, New Zealand, a suburb of Wellington.
Today was one of those days when the normal turns serendipitous without notice. I got up and decided today would be a good day to walk into Wellington to get the things I needed for Crystal’s Easter Basket. It is about an hour’s walk if I don’t get in a big hurry. When I got to the Botanical Gardens, about half way there, I sat down on a bench to rest for a minute. I don’t usually do that, but today I simply felt a need to sit down.
As I was sitting there, an elderly man came along at a good pace. As he passed me, he said good morning, and I responded the same. He stopped and asked me if I was from America. We began to chat about where he had visited in the US and general information that two strangers usually exchange. He sat down and that is where things shifted to serendipity.
We began by talking about the beauty of the gardens, then that shifted to gardening in general, and before I knew it, we were talking about the magical wonders of creation. One topic led to another and we wandered through comparative religion, the occult, historical fact versus fiction or oral misinterpretation of the Holy Bible. Then we went back to the topic of astrology and the modern day fascination people seem to have with things like earth worship and the odd factions of fanatics who can ruin an entire religious concept by being over zealous and pushy. We talked about the differences and similarities between many religions and we discussed our own spiritual paths.
During the discussions things came up that we used to illustrate our personal growth. I may have lost my son to a murderer, but John lost his wife to one, and the killer was his own son. Oh, the horror of that! John said that was when he began to search for a spiritual balance and meaning in his life. Because he loves his wife so much, he knew that she could not be dead. We talked about the spiritual visits some people have and how powerful dreams can be in our lives. We discussed how people have to find the right path for themselves and the first step is to begin searching.
During our talk, we found out that his friend’s daughter is in my granddaughter’s class at school, and they play together a lot. We found out that we know some of the same people involved in different things that we do, and he said he had a lot of respect for the Mormons because of all they did to help people find their roots with our genealogy programs.
But the best part of the talk was when we were discussing what different religions believe. We agreed it came down to several concrete things that seem to be innate to the human spirit.
1. Less is more. The less we have of material things, the more we learn to depend on God for help.
2. To accept others who believe differently means we must have an honestly open mind.
We had a spirited discussion on the impact the Old Testament has on the New Testament and Christian patterns of belief. Then we had a discussion about my beliefs and how I came to that through the experiences of my life. We talked about how neither of us believes in coincidence. We called it-planned coincidence, because everything happens for a reason. I never sit on a bench when I walk into Wellington. He usually doesn’t cut through the gardens on his way either. Usually he doesn’t do more than say good morning, and I rarely talk to strange men other than to respond to a greeting. I guess we were meant to meet. He called it fate.
It was a wonderful, serendipitous morning that required me to think, laugh, talk about things that I often ponder, and share my inner most feeling about God. As we parted ways, he shook my hand and said that he hoped one day he would have the spiritual strength and balance that I possess. What a great compliment to get from someone I’ve only known a few hours.
I don’t know that we will ever meet again, but today was meant to be and I feel wonderful. My brain got a workout, my spirit got a boost, and I laughed a great deal. John is 72 years old, fit, agile in mind and body, and he is finding his spiritual maturity a very interesting path indeed. I am so glad I got to be a part of his journey.