Paul and Kirsten looked like hippies straight out of the sixties. Paul had longish dark hair, a bit of a mallet and a big moustache. Kirsten always wore layers on layers or Indian clothes. She had long blonde hair. They had two children, Hannah and Jacob.
They started coming to our meetings and we became good friends. Friends we could completely relax with. Tony and Paul would go for long runs along “Piggy Road” and all along the by-pass. Tony loved his chats with Paul. He really calmed him down. We always enjoyed visiting them in their arty little apartment in the senior boy’s dormitory at Woodstock school. They were dorm parents.
They were also polar opposites. Kirsten was choleric and Paul was phlegmatic. Somehow they seemed to work well together. The senior boys gave them a hard time. Paul often found threats and graffiti in his office after busting them for doing something illegal. It really wasn’t what he enjoyed doing. He was a peacemaker and wanted love not war. He was calm and collected which irritated the boys even more. They really wanted to see him lose it.
Paul had been in India since his early twenties. He was on the drug/hippy trail as Tony had been. He met Kirsten in Goa. She was on the same trail. They fell in love and started travelling together. Paul would get her to carry his illegal substances in her suitcase, which she did willingly.
They got “married” and travelled to Laos where they lived for many years in a bamboo tree house. They learnt the language and lived simply, like their neighbours. Both of them were attracted to Buddhism and decided that was the answer to their spiritual emptiness. Paul checked himself into a monastery and Kirsten joined a woman’s one in another town. They shaved their hair, put on Buddhist robes and lived lives of celibacy.
It was years before they were let out into the “real” world again. Paul was sure he had conquered his sinful nature and headed for the beach with his begging bowl. As he sat and watched the bikini clad ladies, he realised he wasn’t free at all. After ten years of chanting, meditating and cleansing himself, he was still having lustful thoughts. He was desperate and angry.
He climbed to one of the highest cliffs in the jungle, stood on a rock and prepared to jump. It had been ten wasted years, without his wife and without a life. As he was about to jump, he remembered a prayer from his Catholic childhood:
Our Father, who is in heaven
Holy is your name
Your Kingdom come
Your will be done on earth
As it is in heaven
As he went on, he realised that he actually had a Father in heaven; a Father who loved him. If he had a Father, it meant he was his son. Suddenly he fell onto the rock under the power of that great heavenly love. He woke up what seemed to be hours later. Everything was different.
He got back to the monastery and opened a letter that had just arrived from Kirsten. In it, she was subtly trying to tell him that she had met with Jesus that week. She was planning to leave the monastery. What did he think?
They made plans to meet each other and headed for India. Somehow they bumped into believers who helped them with their questions and new faith. Mussoorie was their last stop. They rented a one-roomed place with hardly any water or electricity. They had no money but Kirsten started making and selling candles to the foreigners on the hillside. She made just enough to cover their expenses.
When we met them, they had come a long way. Paul sometimes led our prayer meetings and that was always interesting. He knew how to meditate and he was NEVER in a hurry to move on to the next thing. He was happy to wait for however long he needed to. Tony didn’t have the same patience. He would sit there thinking, “Ok, now what? What are we going to do now? Let’s move on.” He would open his eyes to look at Paul and there he was, quietly sitting in the same position with peace all over his face.
We learnt so much from Paul. The biggest thing was this: When we are spending time with our heavenly Father, let’s not rush away. Let’s ask Him if He’s had enough. We will know how loved we are when we always hear the same answer. “No not yet, please stay a little bit longer.”