Whenever I am back on the island of Mauritius, saturday mornings are my moments for feeding my body and spirit, so I usually jog round the lush green streets of Ebene, sit and meditate in the spiritual park near Rose Hill then walk back home. It was on one such trip when I met this man pushing a woman in a wheelchair. I exchanged pleasantries with them, the man and I had a little chat, after which bid each other good bye and I went my way. I also found out they were married and I deduced she was wheelchair bound.
The next saturday while at routine, I met them again and we talked, exchanged pleasantries…and went our separate ways. This happened for about six times, and then one day as I came round the corner, I saw the wheelchair backing me, seemingly on its own…and when I got closer, I realised the man was squatting infront of the wheel chair, massaging the woman’s feet. The care with which he did it … as if he were touching something sacred … fragile …priceless, the gentleness with which he spoke to her, as would a mother speaking to her only child, all that struck a cord within my spirit and I stood there mesmerised. When I got closer and greeted them, the man asked me “Are you married?”. I froze at the question (it wouldn’t be the last time), then quickly recovered and told him that I was not. Then I noticed something else…the twinkle in his eye when he asked the question, you would think he were asking me “would you like to join us in heaven?”. Yes, I felt in his eyes love, no regret and … and almost sensed pity for me for what I was missing by being single.
And I thought to myself wow!!! The woman is wheelchair-bound, I doubt they go dancing, or how often they make love … that is if they even get round to doing it at all or … she that she cooks for him. In short, I just didn’t see her giving him all the things our culture has brainwashed us into thinking women must do for their men and yet there in his eyes was all proof I needed that he was in love, … and loving it. He did go on and tell me I must get married but it was what he didn’t say, or more accurately, how he behaved that left and imprint in my spirit to this day.
I walked home … meditating on what I had just seen (did I really witness this? or had my hyperactive mind gone into overdrive again?) and I offered a prayer of thanks to God. In my heart I believe God sent those old lovers to teach me (or more accurately remind me) of a key lesson about what love is …. not first and foremost a feeling (something I know but have a hard time actually getting to grips with), like Stephen Covey will say …it is what you do (a verb). Love the feeling is a fruit of love the verb, it manifests itself in the loving things we do, like care for others, like put their happiness before ours especially when it is not convenient to us. If we could do that even 60% of the time, we just could live our romantic dreams … to love the woman/man in our life, with every breath we take, every day we wake up (I know a bit of how that might feel, I once fell in love with my own girlfriend). Isn’t that amazing?
Now I don’t know how far those two have come to get where they are today, what quarrels, arguments they’d had, but somehow, they never lost sight of what mattered most. That, and the fact that they probably dealt with their mutual challenges in a way that made love blossom in their lives. It might not even have been ‘they’, sometimes it just takes one person to not lose sight of what matters during the thick of things and to sacrifice a bit of their ego … to give love a chance to grow further.
That was the last time I saw that couple; I have gone back to jog on that same path, and I keep hoping to see them and maybe thank him for the lesson he had taught me, but I never saw them again. They serve as a reminder to me, that romantic fairy tales do exist. If you are reading this, I hope their story inspires you and I hope you will join me in praying: “Father, please teach me how to love like that man, selflessly and totally, with devotion worthy of a child of the path of light. Amen”
[Thanks to Stephanie for editing this post]