My daughter asks me: “What are your plans for next year, Mum?” I look at her and say: “I plan to be happy.” I believe happiness is an inside job. It does not depend on your circumstances. Happiness is a choice. Happiness is a product of inner peace. I can choose to position myself in the peace of God, even when I am in pieces.
It is a time of saying goodbye. I was invited by one of the teams of our local ministry for a cuppa tea. On the drive there I thought how privileged I was to have been your wife and personally witness your dreams come true, my Beloved. When we started out in ministry in the D R Church, you were a youth pastor in the inner city. We often wondered why you invested years to specialise in the pastoral care of the sick. Seven years later, when it was God’s time, the phone call came to invite you to become a hospital chaplain. This invitation was issued with a warning that there was no salary attached. We decided to step out in faith and it became a journey of 23 years since HospiVision’s birth.
We gather around a table. We eat sweet bread with glazed fruit and drink tea while we talk about you. There is a buzz of excitement when they say that I must first open my gift that Michelle du Bois had made for me. She took some of your ties and shirts and made me a beautiful wall hanging of a windmill as a memorial to you and a word of encouragement to me. A windmill is completely equipped to turn in the wind. It does not run around to chase the wind. It waits for the wind to come. I am able to see the promise and newness, despite the valleys ahead, being firmly established like a windmill. I need to wait for the wind of God and not become anxious. I don’t have to chase the wind or go in search of the wind. I need to anchor myself in God. In His timing, the wind will come and the windmill will be ready to turn.
She said the following about you, my Beloved: “I am so impressed with André’s authenticity. His burden, his heart and his dream was to support people who were in pain, who were suffering. He did not do it from a position of ‘I have arrived and I would like them to arrive as well’. He stayed in the trenches with them. It was the deep, heart-motivated passion of a humble man. It wasn’t an idealistic prideful space of ‘I have gained some ground, perhaps I will reach down and help someone’. Although he was the CEO of the organisation, his heart was on the grassroots level. He was in charge of so many people under him. He rose above, moved from a deep empathy and desire to help those who are suffering. How many thousands of lives did he improve and impact in the 23 years that he carried this organisation. He was so akin to the suffering of people and how it felt to suffer. Right to the end, even with the way that he exited, he was never in a superior position. It was not a case of ‘I remembered when it was hard’; it was always hard for him.”
You loved Henry Nouwen’s work, my Beloved. This quote of him is such a good description of you: “When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, is a friend who cares.”
I found a worship song that is my flag song. It also works on the days when my flag is only hoisted halfway up the pole as a sign of grief. Steffany Gretzinger wrote a song titled: ‘No one ever cared for me like Jesus’. The lyrics says it all. “If my heart could tell a story, if my life would sing a song, if I have a testimony, if I have nothing at all. No one ever cared for me like Jesus; His faithful hand has held me all this way. And when I’m old and gray and all my days are numbered on the earth, let it be known, in You alone, my joy was found. Let my children tell their children, let this be their memory, that all my treasure was in heaven and You were everything to me.”
I watched an episode of Anne of Green Gables. She has a conversation with her teacher and says: “Oh Mrs Stacey, I wonder if I am never going to be happy?” Mrs Stacey says: “The quest for perpetual happiness… It is absolutely unreasonable to expect to be happy all the time. Frankly, it is neither possible nor realistic. You can’t know joy, unless you have known sorrow. Those of us who can soar to the highest heights, can also plunge to the deepest depths.” “It is a balance,” Anne replied. “That is the beauty of it,” Mrs Stacey says. “I am so sad to see you go, yet so happy that I know you.” That is how I feel about you, my Beloved.
I will anchor the windmill of my life in the fertile ground of Your grace, my God. You are the wind that will turn the blades. You are my fountain of joy, whether I soar to the highest heights of happiness or is plunged in the deepest depths of grief and sorrow. James 1:2-3 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” Yes God, let it be known, in You alone, my joy was found. That is how I can plan to be happy.