Every Wednesday night at about 5:55pm Poatina comes alive for a few minutes as residents make their way to one of 8 or so homes. Each one is carrying a meal of some description to the host family where 8 to 15 adults and kids will share in a pot luck dinner together. This Wednesday I was running late from a meeting with a colleague in Albania, which meant I hadn’t prepared anything to bring. Even though I had checked earlier with the coordinator, I still felt incredibly guilty! Anyway after the meal, I was surprised with a lovely lemon slice, complete with lit candle, to the sound of everyone singing ‘Happy Birthday’. As if that wasn’t enough, a wonderful bunch of ‘interflora’ flowers was presented to me, it had been collected earlier that day and dropped off at my hosts. In the card was a hand written note to ‘Lovely Claire’ wishing me a happy birthday and time to enjoy the flowers! The card wasn’t signed, and although I can guess who sent the flowers, I don’t know for sure.

The flowers are absolutely beautiful! Roses and lilies and dahlias and other flowers I don’t know, and they all look wonderful together! But I think the most impacting thing was knowing that someone had not only remembered me, but had spent time, money and effort just to make me feel good! That’s something! They didn’t want me to know it was them, so they weren’t after any acknowledgment or pay off, they just wanted to make my day. You wouldn’t believe how challenging it has been for me to process that?!! I have realized that possibly all my relationships, even with God, have as part of them this complex underlying belief that I need to earn the other person’s approval or live up to their expectations in some way.

There is an episode of West Wing in which the President says to his eldest daughter, who has never felt able to gain his approval, ‘all you had to do to make me happy was come home at the end of the day’. Good friends of mine just wanted to make my day. This morning I discovered that it makes God happy to see my heart smile, that peace and joy on the inside are his intention for me. Its not about saving the world to make him happy, its about being me and enjoying the life he has given me… and ‘coming home at the end of the day’. Someone sent me flowers that took me back to the heart of God, who made them for me so that I would smile. I like that, I really do.

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