ANYONE paying their respects at the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, St Joachim’s, Holland Park, last week would have been pleased to see a beautiful bunch of freshly cut flowers at the statue’s feet.
I was doing some tidying up around the grotto at the time the flowers were delivered.
The car drove into the church ground with some degree of urgency which made me look up.
A young Asian man jumped out of the vehicle and asked me whether I worked for the Church.
I told him I did – simply as a parishioner – and he then asked me if I could take his donation.
I suggested that he take it over to the parish priest’s home nearby which he agreed to do.
Failing to get a response there he came back to me and asked again if he could leave his donation “for electricity” with me.
I relieved him of it, particularly after he explained that he had visited the church once before but he had found no one in attendance.
I asked him if he was a Catholic to which he replied, “No”.
He told me that he was a Buddhist, new to the Holland Park area and that it is the Buddhist practice to visit neighbourhood religious establishments to make an offering as a sign of goodwill.
I thought that was terrific.
But then he went back to his car and produced a beautiful bunch of flowers.
I asked what they were for and he explained they were for Mary.
When I explained that Our Lady of Lourdes and Mary were the same person, he was seriously relieved.
As I placed the flowers at Mary’s feet I looked back and saw my new Buddhist friend praying in his Buddhist pose.
Four lessons I learnt from that experience.
Firstly, how trusting was this man in giving his much-valued donation to a complete stranger?
Secondly, how important is Mary even in the non-Christian world?
Thirdly, what about the devotion of this man in coming back to complete his mission.
Fourthly, while we have no hesitation in believing that our God is the one true God, one doesn’t have to be Christian to enthusiastically demonstrate our peace, love and goodwill towards others.
Richard K Tiainen
Holland Park West, Qld