Life takes us down unfamiliar paths sometimes. Many of you who know me are aware that I am in process of a life change of seismic magnitude and the curious part is, the unexpectedness of it all, moving alone, as I now have, to Eastern Europe.
My new surroundings are congenial and, for the most part, really quite jolly, so I have much to be thankful for. How we deal with such events is a function of two things, our own inner resources and the depth and magnitude of the grace of God, as expressed through those who take the trouble to reach out and simply stand beside me. You all know who you are. The fabulously talented London pianist, the Turkish radiologist, the retired teacher in Paris, the overworked teacher from the Ukraine, the old friends from Kuwait, the doctor in Australia pushed to the brink of exhaustion, the wise lady from Montego Bay, the Anglo-Irish therapist, the only brother I know in the UK with a doctorate in theology, many friends in Jerusalem, including a rabbi and his wife – the calmest person I think I have ever met – Israeli and South African friends, family in New Zealand and the UK – the list goes on. If you do not recognise yourself, I do beg your pardon for sins of omission; you know who you are. The point? Grace is the point. Here, so many kindnesses have been extended to me for no apparent reason from strangers as well as friends. The Bulgarian dentist, his beautiful daughter, my young but spectacularly efficient cleaning lady, the journalist at his country house…without forgetting the Israeli lawyer and his wife, who, after five minutes’ conversation, quietly picked up my entire tab for dinner. One frequently feels quite undeserving and, rightly so, since grace is a free gift, given without reservation and at the point of need. The rich, those cushioned by society’s comforts rarely feel the need, thus never comprehend the benefits. It is the poor, the blessed in the sense of the Beatitudes, upon whom the waterfalls of grace are poured out. Christ did not have much truck with overeducated, opinionated rabbis, the rich and famous with sparkling dentition and a public persona. His focus was on all the rest of us, like strangers on the bus, trying to make their way home.