UR Opinion

Paradise this side of heaven

Susanne Pascal

By Susanne Pascal


As I was contemplating a move from the city to Gimli, more than two years ago now, I learned that the Icelandic name Gimli means paradise. It is a pretty name, with a meaning of mythic proportions. The discovery rang a bell for me… I was reminded of a pact I had made with one of my former patients (I will call her Cecile). Cecile was a delightful character, a witty and wise woman imbued with a tender heart and a disarming child-like faith. As her final days drew near, she and I spoke often of life beyond death… We promised each other that whoever was first to die, that one would find a way to contact the other in some way, to let the living know what lay beyond the last breath. Mirth and astonishment bubbled up inside me as the penny dropped...Cecile was reaching across the veil to say,” This Gimli where you have chosen to live, it means paradise…I am fulfilling our pact: Beyond death’s door, there is paradise….and it is not unlike Gimli!”
True enough, Gimli is a place made very beautiful by the glorious unfurling of its seasons, by the sparkling black velvet of its nights, by the peaceful hush of its early mornings, by the gentle pace of its charming streets, by the ever-changing aura of its lake, by the rich diversity of its population, and by something so wonderful as the presence of angels among us.
Yes indeed, there are angels among us! I have had the privilege of meeting a few, and I don’t doubt there are more who I have yet to recognize. There were the angels that helped me to find just the right house. Angels next door willingly help me out when I am in trouble. The neighborhood angels generously help tend my yard and driveway all year long. There are those angels who have welcomed me as a newcomer, with a smile, a kind word, a friendly greeting…they brighten up our little paradise.
Just this past weekend I met an angel at the hardware store. There I stood, more than a little lost, trying to find a replacement part for my clothes dryer vent. Unassuming and respectful, the angel stood by and guided my selection; he agreed to come to my house to install the part. Once there, he also looked at a seriously-leaking faucet, diagnosed the problem, and returned (twice!) to the store for parts. With utter simplicity, good humor and remarkable patience, this angel taught me a fine lesson in plumbing.
I am left amazed and delighted by the random acts of kindness I have been blessed to experience in our town. I hope angels continue to be revealed among us, not only in Gimli, but wherever empty hands and hearts need filling with acts of kindness.
This Thanksgiving I will be remembering and giving thanks for the angels who have touched my life. (if you are one of these, I hope you know of my gratitude). I am inspired to look for opportunities to “pay it forward”. What about the angels in your life? How about you?
Susanne Pascal
September 24, 2012

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