By Cathy Miller
My star word for 2019 is Memory. It hadn’t “spoken” to me since I got it in early January and then, all of a sudden today a convergence of memories arose of three dear ones from my spiritual journey. It was as if God was saying to me, “Remember and embrace your memory of these whom I have sent to instruct and guide you.”
First, this morning I was talking with a few friends and we were remembering the ongoing impact that our dear friend, Virginia Watkins, who died 8 years ago, had on so many of us at St. Paul. And then one of the hymns we sang this morning was The Summons, a favorite of Virginia’s from the UMC Worship Book.
The Chancel Choir sang a setting of The Lord is My Shepherd, which made me think of Dr. Martha Stewart who co-led the Covenant Sunday School class when I first came to St. Paul in 1985. In one class lesson she was talking about the 23rd Psalm and the phrase “surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life”. She said that she always envisioned “goodness” and “mercy” as two sheep following her. I loved that image and took it for my own . Dr. Martha always comes to mind when I encounter the 23rd Psalm, even all these years later and I cherish that memory of her.
When we sang How Firm a Foundation as our closing hymn I thought of her again when one Sunday she referenced the stanza that says:
“When through fiery trials they pathways may lie,
my grace all sufficient shall be thy supply.
The flames shall not hurt thee, I only design,
thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.”
She said it sometimes seemed to her like she had an awful lot of dross in her life to refine! She was a pillar of the faith in my eyes and it was remarkable and instructive to me that she felt that way. It wasn’t a big thing and she probably wouldn’t even have remembered saying it. But the message to me was that if she felt that way maybe there was hope for me too. I always think of her when I sing that stanza.
And then Darren told a story about making a recent visit with a St. Paul member who had lost his wife a couple years ago. Darren asked how they met and he shared the sweet story in his sermon. And he ended with “And that is how Price Foster met his wife, Sam, to whom he was married 57 years.” Another memory of a dear one! Sam was a member of the Thursday morning group to which I belong and Virginia Watkins also belonged. I have in my memory all the good discussions we had in that group, Sam’s many insightful contributions and how we all help each other wrestle with our faith and grow as a result. I treasure my memories of both Sam and Virginia.
As I think about these people and others I am reminded that the right people have appeared in my life at the right time to meet me where I was and to deliver the message they had to impart. How lucky we are to travel the path with others who help us along the way by saying, “Here is what God is like.” or when we’re lost, “Go this way.” or “Think about it this way”, or “This is what God has done for me.” And I am grateful for the memories of my friends in faith that came to me all on this day.