Waiting for our room to be cleaned at the Ellerbeck Bed and Breakfast in Salt Lake City, a woman came from an adjoining room and greeted us with a big smile and high energy.
We returned niceties, and she sat down to visit.
Enthusiastically, she said, “I retired yesterday from twenty years of teaching, and after my retirement party, I said to myself, ‘I am retired, and can do anything I want.’ I decided not to go home, and found this bed and breakfast on my phone, and here I am.”
She laughed easily, was pragmatic, and authentic. Gloria was my kind of woman.
We had a long conversation about the Mormon Church. She was a member of LDS (Latter Day Saints), and we were curious. Two missionary girls, (at least 19 years old) one from Tahiti, and one from Florida took us on a tour of Temple Square the previous day. Both were genuine, sweet, and very dedicated to their faith.
I’m not going to share Gloria’s response to all our religious questions, but I want to thank her, again, for her generous openness.
My husband said he lost his faith when his wife died as the result of an accident, and people would tell him she was in a better place. Gloria said the same happened to her when a divorce twenty-five years ago, broke her innocence and spiritual core. It was the turning point of her life. She relayed a story told by her counselor of three years. I cannot deliver it with the same dynamic impact, but I can share my interpretation.
The counselor said, “Imagine you have a beautiful pearl. You hold it in your hand and heart and love it totally. If out of anger (fear, frustration, hurt, unfairness), you toss the pearl in a river, it is gone, forever. You can regret throwing it away, and search for it, but you will never get it back. It is lost, forever.”
Gloria added, “The same applies to people. As when you lost your wife when my husband tore our family apart, fragments of my faith died. Like the pearl, I lost it forever. I will never get it back.”
Gloria continued sharing the story of her four children and her experiences as a teacher. She eventually discovered her spiritual truth and lives a full life as a single woman. Through her travels, she has witnessed many varied belief systems in the world, and what she lost in her divorce was devastating, but not the end of life, love, or spiritual growth.
I gratefully add Gloria to my serendipitous gift list.
Until the next time: Live while you live!