by Lillian Csernica on April 8, 2016
Today I have some stories to tell that come from the United States of America. My homeland is a big country. You can do a lot of traveling without needing your passport! Along the way I’ve had the pleasure of giving and receiving some wonderful gifts.
San Francisco, California — I was at the San Francisco International Airport when I met a Buddhist monk with a heavy French accent. We got to talking. Like most holy men in public places, the monk was probably accustomed to people gravitating to him. He seemed to understand a whole lot more about me than what little personal information came up in the conversation. His gift to me took the form of sincere compassion and some encouraging words. As a token of my gratitude I gave him a pewter sunflower with “Believe” engraved on it. This is why I love to travel. You never know who you might meet, or what might happen when you do.
Maui, Hawaii — The Hawaiian Lei Greeting has been a part of Polynesian culture for several centuries. Many tour packages allow you to choose just how luxuriant you’d like your lei greeting to be. Before the boys came along, I took a trip to Maui with my mother. It was quite an adventure, including a luau and a submarine ride. Magpie that I am, I got all excited about the leis made not from flowers but seashells. Ever since I was little I’ve had a great fondness for seashells. Mom has been to Hawaii more than once, so she had quite a few shell leis. She has given them all to me, along with the kukui nut bracelet and earrings belonging to my great-grandmother.
Las Vegas, Nevada — Many years ago my husband and I stayed at the Excalibur. My father and stepmother lived in Ohio at that time. My stepsister lived in Vegas, so we decided to meet in the middle for Christmas at her house. (I have several stories from that trip!) In the Excalibur there was the usual casino floor with card tables and slot machines. Downstairs, I found a whole floor for kids full of carnival games such as Skee Ball, the Ring Toss, the Dime Toss. There were also a few games where you used what amounted to a small catapult to shoot a frog onto a lily pad or a witch doll into a cauldron. I know how to play poker, blackjack, and even whist, but I’m not much for gambling. On the other hand, I love to win prizes. I must have won close to a dozen, most of them some type of stuffed toy. I did not have room in my luggage for all of them. Besides, it was really more about winning them than actually keeping all those toys. So what did I do with them? Remember, this was Christmastime. I wandered around the hotel, giving the toys away to little kids (with their parents’ permission).
Seattle, Washington –I had gone up to Vashon Island with a friend to visit the All Merciful Saviour Russian Orthodox Monastery. I’ve been blessed to know Abbot Tryphon and Hierodeacon Paul for more than 20 years. That visit deserves its own post. Right now I want to mention yet another meeting in yet another airport. In the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, I was waiting for my flight to be called. My friend and I got into conversation with two ladies who admired my friend’s earrings, which I had made. As it turns out, one of the ladies also made her own jewelry, including the pair of earrings she was wearing. I don’t know what prompted her to do it, but my fellow jeweler took off her earrings and gave them to me right then and there! People are so kind. We forget that, with all the conflict and grief in the world. I will always treasure those earrings as a reminder of that trip and a reminder of the difference an generous impulse can make.