The Woman in the Red Hat

The Woman in the Red Hat

She had seen the red hat in an ‘op shop’. As it was an expensive brand, looked new, and was being sold cheaply, she couldn’t resist buying it. It was a daring purchase for one who had become so conservative. But now she wore it with confidence, and it was a good companion for her greying hair. As well she had got to a stage in her life when she didn’t care what people thought. Maybe moving to a more avant-garde suburb had enabled her to thumb her nose at her ageing self and to break free of her conservative mould. Whatever the case she felt good in the red hat.

One day she was seen wending her way through a crowd of shoppers, her red hat distinguishing her from the rest of the passers-by who were dressed in an assortment of clothes.

That morning, as was her usual custom, she had woken early. With a tray of tea on the bed beside her she had prayerfully considered her day. What were God’s priorities for her?  

She needed to do shopping to augment her dwindling food supplies. Amidst the ‘to do’ list was the name of a woman she felt nudged to meet. The woman lived in the same road as herself although she didn’t know exactly where. She thought she would have to resort to knocking on various doors until she found her. But that activity would have to wait until after her shopping was done.

After collecting  bags and donning her red hat, she had set off with her shopping list. On the back of the list, against each day for the following week she had written the menu. This saved her time and energy and in so doing she could be sure she had all the ingredients when it came to meal preparation. She didn’t want to waste time. Her husband had once told her the story about his old boarding school master who had told the boys in his charge that if they wasted time, time would waste them!

Whatever the case, she was glad she hadn’t dawdled that morning. Walking in the same shopping precinct was the woman from her street, who she had thought to see. Throwing decorum to the wind she called out the woman’s name until she turned around.

Their delight at seeing each other was amplified by the woman’s Greek heritage.

Although her attire was sombre as befitted someone whose husband had died, her countenance was anything but sombre. Her nut-brown face was wreathed in smiles when she saw the woman in the red hat. “Come to my house we can sit under the lemon tree and drink coffee together,” she said in broken English. 

Before they went their separate ways, they arranged a time to meet.

The coincidence of meeting the woman she had thought about that morning, and the prospect of coffee under a lemon tree, cheered the woman in the red hat. She completed her errands with a light heart. But she couldn’t help thinking about the widowed woman she had just met.

She wasn’t afraid of death herself after a story she had heard. It concerned a man who was nearing the end of his life. Apparently, he was scared of dying until the thought occurred to him that beyond death lay an adventure. Relinquishing his hold on life he died soon after, and in peace.

As far as she was concerned, she had come to believe that after death we moved into a new stage. Perhaps like Jesus we too are able to go beyond physical boundaries. Until the time came, she would continue to’ listen’ for direction each day.

Her habit of having an early morning ‘quiet time’ and waiting for God’s direction was just as much a part of her routine as cleaning her teeth, and she wouldn’t be without it. She remembered the time she had watched small boats skimming across the Bay aided by the breeze which filled their sails. When she spent time seeking inspiration for her days, she felt like one of those sail boats. She couldn’t think of a more satisfying way to live.

At the beginning of the New Year she had pondered what was God’s purpose for her for the months ahead. At that moment she looked up and saw a picture propped up on the bookcase in her room. It depicted a red-capped crane. The stance of the crane seemed to suggest it was readying itself for flight.

The more she looked at the picture, the more she concluded that, like the crane, even at her age she couldn’t just let the days slide by, that there were new horizons to explore as the Spirit of God led her. With renewed energy she got out of bed inspired and ready for the days ahead.