Sorry for the delay in posting this note which I wrote during the Christmas holidays and already shared on Facebook.
Eve was marvelous for us thanks to the surprising help of two kind
Chinese people in Macao, total strangers, who showed us the goodness
that I have found so many times among Chinese people all over the world
(and people in general, to be fair). We were trying to attend a Catholic
event to enjoy some beautiful religious Christmas music, but we weren’t
paying enough attention as the cabbie dropped us off at the wrong
church, an isolated, dark one far from roads where we could hope to find
a new taxi. He drove off before we realized his mistake.
was nobody within sight except a security guard sequestered in a little guard post unable to speak much Mandarin
and a young couple, I think married, apparently there to enjoy the
beautiful view from that hill. The guard told us nothing useful, but as
we wandered past the couple, we asked where to go to find a taxi and got
the discouraging news that we’d have to walk a long ways down the hill
and beyond. We were just starting our journey down the long dark road,
realizing we might miss the service we wanted to attend, when they came
over to us and said they were going to drive us to the right place. So
We were total strangers, but they volunteered their time
and their car to help us get to our destination. As they neared the
cathedral, we saw and heard the musical celebration that had just begun
in a bright, crowded plaza, but with an ideal spot for us to watch. We
experienced many beautiful hymns tonight. We were so touched with
gratitude for the kindness that rescued us from being lost and wandering
on a gloomy, remote path and instead took us to a bright and joyous
place ringing with sacred hymns.
Interestingly, the square was
about 200 meters away from the cathedral, but right next to an aptly
named building: “Santa Casa da Misericordia” — the Holy House of Mercy.
We felt blessed with undeserved mercy in being able to partake of that
musical celebration after our own inattention (and a cabbie’s
sloppiness) got us so far from our destination.
In a tiny way,
what happened to us has parallels to the Christmas message itself and
the way Christ seeks to rescue each of us from our lost state and our
own dark journeys to bring us back into light and joy, to the
destination He wants us to find. I hope I will never forget the sweet
impact of the kindness of these strangers, and hope I can find ways to
help strangers in need as well.
Background: Having just spent a
lot of time with family in the US recently and since we are going back
in a few months when it will be easier to get together, this year we
stayed in greater China for Christmas. An often overlooked part
of China is the tiny region of Macao, known to many Americans only for
its gambling. We hate gambling (though I do have some money in the stock
market), but I love the charm, beauty, and food of Macao. Since
it’s now very cheap to visit due to concerns over disturbances next door
in Hong Kong, I wanted to bring my wife and show her what I found here
on a business trip in the past where I was invited to speak at a conference on intellectual property strategy.
For Christmas Eve, our plan was to take a taxi to the main
island of Macao and attend a mass at a Catholic cathedral or an event in
the plaza nearby in order to experience beautiful religious Christmas
music. It worked out so well, through the miracle of selfless service
from two Chinese strangers, and the love of so many good Catholic people
sharing their musical gifts with us and a large crowd tonight. I
especially appreciated the woman who hosted the program and gave little
spiritual thoughts about Christ between many of the musical
performances. Some beautiful preaching from a faithful and enthusiastic Christian woman.
Please accept this belated “Merry Christmas” from China and