Ah, spring, my favorite time of year – although as I’m writing this another snowstorm is on its way. Isn’t that the way life works, always in a state of flux? The biting winds of winter bluster through followed by the warm breezes of spring. Those breezes are pushed away by the heavy hot air of summer and then relief blows in with the cool autumn air. Each season has its delights and its difficulties. Marble has been through a bunch of seasons and it seems like there are changes at every turn. Can you imagine all the changes that have taken place since 1854 (forget about 1628!)? Some changes are scary, some exciting, some sad, some joyous... but the comforting breeze that connects them all is that we journey through them together. Who we travel with makes it all worthwhile.
There’s an old poem about how people touch our lives in “bits and pieces” – some people pass through quickly and we wish they’d stay longer, others blow through and we’re actually glad their time with us is brief, and then there are those who stay with us for a hundred seasons but it’s not enough time. Each and every person that comes through our lives leaves an imprint on our soul and helps us navigate the changes.
I’ve been blessed by loving family, supportive teachers and treasured friends throughout my life and in my twenty-three years at Marble I feel God has worked overtime in bringing exceptional travel companions my way. I started my Marble journey with Luella Mulder. On Easter Sunday 1990 I filled out a Welcome Visitor card; within a week of being home I received a handwritten note from this Marble staff member named Luella who was concerned for this Iowan planning a move to the big city. We corresponded and set a brunch date for my first Sunday in New York the following August. I had no way of knowing how a simple letter from a kind woman would impact my life. God certainly did. Luella helped ease my transition to NYC by checking in with me each week in my job hunt, making sure I had people to be with during the holidays, encouraging me as I pursued my dreams, and praying for me every day. Plus, a casual conversation she had with Dr. Rob Williams, former Associate Minister, led to my working at Marble.
Luella became my NYC mother-figure, which calmed my mom’s concerns about her “baby” living so far from home. But more than that, she became one of my dearest friends. And even though she’s living in Michigan now I am so grateful she is still accompanying me on my journey.
In addition to friends and family, small encounters with strangers can also help us negotiate life’s changes simply by bringing a smile and a sense of “it’s going to be OK.” For me that includes the older woman who waves at me when I get on the bus on Sunday mornings, or the teenaged boy I witnessed who offered his seat on the subway to a tired woman when the six people sitting closest to her didn’t, or even the two Jack Russell Terriers who sit in the window across from my apartment building and fill me with joy each time I see them.
Whether named or unnamed, the people (and animals) in our lives represent God’s smile to lighten our day, God’s shoulder to lean on when we’re struggling, God’s belief in us when we’re striving to use all the gifts He’s given us.
I encourage you to think of those people that have helped you ride the winds of change in your life. Take the chance to thank them. And for those who are gone or are strangers you won’t see again, thank God for blowing them your way.