4 Jan

Macy’s announced it is no longer politically correct for their employees to wish people a holiday specific greeting. Opponents of religion believe someone, somewhere will be offended. So the world is going vanilla with salutations like “holiday greetings” and “best of the season.” 

I’m not a vanilla type of woman. I think outside the box, seeing everyday things a little differently than most. So, I’ve decided to remain true to nature, this holiday and wish people “a sandpiper.”

The idea came to me long after reading a forwarded email. Author Robert Peterson described a twenty year old lesson in harmony, courage, and undemanding love from a child who taught him the value of living. Maybe Peterson’s tale is an urban legend, a circulating story without corroboration in fact. Even if it is, I consider Peterson’s lesson learned through the innocence of a child’s life lost, a jewel to share, with everyone, unseasonally. No partridge in a pear tree, just a sandpiper bequeathed from a little girl who benchmarked in 6 years, what many don’t achieve in lifetimes. 

Peterson says he framed the picture Wendy drew of a sandpiper. It hangs in his home. Peterson wants to be reminded, “the price of hating other human beings is loving oneself less.”

Wendy met Robert at the beach where he went to escape troubles. She was six. His mother was dying. Wendy wanted to talk about castles and sand. Robert didn’t want to talk at all. But when a sandpiper flew by, the blue eyed moppet called out, “Look, it’s a joy.” He listened. She explained, “My mama says sandpipers come to bring us joy.”

Peterson recalls muttering self pityingly, “Goodbye joy, hello pain.” Giggles can be contagious. Wendy’s were. Despite his sadness, Wendy’s smiles carried Robert as he continued down the beach, taking along with him her invitation to come back for another happy day.

Nearing winter, the next time, Wendy wanted Peterson to play. Robert wanted to ask, where she lived, why she didn’t go to school and more. Wendy answered his questions, simply. She lived “over there” in the summer homes, didn’t go to school and her mother said they were on vacation. Robert thought that strange for a six year old during the school season. He let it go at that. 

Weeks later at the beach, seeing Wendy, he was cross with the little girl’s questions. “This is a bad day. My mother died,” he shouted. When Wendy asked if dying hurt, he snapped “Of course!” then strode off.

A month later, back at the beach, feeling guilty not seeing Wendy there, he knocked on her house door, introducing himself to her mother. “I missed your little girl today and wondered where she was.” Wendy’s mother answered, “She died last week. She had leukaemia.” Robert was desperate to catch his breath.  “She loved this beach so when she asked to come, we couldn’t say no. But the last few weeks, she declined rapidly… ” Handing him an envelope, Wendy’s mother said, “She left something for you.” Inside was a crayon drawing– a beach, a sea, and a bird. And Wendy’s words, “A SANDPIPER TO BRING YOU JOY.”

Truth be told, the answer to life’s complications can be this simple.

We keep looking for serenity. It is within, available to each and every one of us. It is a jewel inside, a precious treasure we unwrap as we need a spiritual lift, even from a dying 6 year old’s sandpiper reminding us what is important. Peace, even on earth, is not seasonal. Serenity is not found trying to escape an experience. It is linked but not to “getting away from it all.”  

Imagine if we learn what Peterson did, serenity will become our way. Mr. Peterson wrote “The hustle and bustle of everyday traumas can make us lose focus about what is truly important or what is only a momentary setback or crisis.” We need to make peace our way.” A special someone answered my question why they were smiling when they looked at me, saying “I’m happy.” That is what a seasonal greeting is all about. Expressing happiness, joy, now and forever. So I wish you all a sandpiper….



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