Something…actually two somethings, Joanne Carlson Brown wrote last night in her Caring Bridge, sharing the steps [if any] and events [many more than much] she and Christie are dealing with, bring me some memories and some hope.
Joanne, ending last night’s update: “We appreciate all the support and caring that is expressed in this Journal. It keeps our spirits up as we continue the journey we find ourselves on. Definitely not what we had planned for our lives together. But the important word there is together, which we will be forever, no matter what.”
The first: Definitely not what we had planned for our lives together.
The second: together, which we will be forever, no matter what.
The first takes me to John and Karen. Such a lovely couple, three daughters, one of whom was adopted from Columbia. They were the most active and supporting members of Lakewood United Church of Christ, Colorado. John was the Treasurer for the church, quiet voice [spoke when relevant…exceptional] on the Church Council. Karen taught Church School. Never missed a church event. Faithfull, competent, kind and a “what more can we do?” attitude.
I thought of them a few days…simply because I’ve always believe in reciprocating relationships. Two words, genuine and mutual, were my goal as pastor and friend. And it hit me: what in the world does our church do for John and Karen and kids [all in elementary school in the 70’s]? After the Council meeting, a Monday night, I visited privately with John, “John, I’m really good at guilt and worry. What concerns me is you and Karen are doing EVERYTHING [spoken with emphasis] for our church. How in the world can we support you, be with you?”
He smiled, “Mark, quit worrying and no guilt valid. We’re fine. And. You are, too.”
“John , honestly I’m not looking for validation; I’m only saying I wish we could do more for you.” He smiled, shirked his shoulders and tapped me on the heart, “There is who you are. We know that.”
Ah. Monday night…guilt and worry lessened. I had shared my concerns. Monday night, 10 p.m.
Saturday morning, less than a week later, my phone rang [hey, 1974, only land lines] at 5:30 a.m. “Mark? This is John…I just received a phone call. Karen was on her way to a League of Women Voter’s meeting in Boulder…was in a head-on accident. She’s in Emergency at St. Anthony’s Hospital. Can I come by…and ask you to go with me?”
I was dressing before the call ended. John came by. I was afraid to ask Karen’s condition. John relayed as we drove to the hospital. “I think she’s still alive; they didn’t say one way or another.”
Turns out a drunk driver came over the center line, smashed into Karen’s car, but somehow she didn’t have serious injuries…ended up getting fully well.
Still, that’s a lesson…and Joanne and Christie know it. That’s a lesson that has narrated my ministry and life [and sometimes they are not intertwined.]. We DON’T know what tomorrow brings. We don’t know cars will never cross the line or run the signal. We don’t know what that bump is on the back. To say life is unpredictable is so understated.
The second: in this together, no matter what.
Turns out “no matter what” is Joanne’s e-mail address. But, more. It’s the centering truth of her life and her living. Such faith. Such hope. Such love. Together.
On this morning, taking a second step into May, I think of that…unpredictable and being together.
May it be for you and for me. Why? Because I will never consider that God plans for me to get harmed. No. God’s purpose for me is to know in my heart and soul and every moment of breath, that God’s promise, “I am with you, I love you, I care for you, no matter what,” is the primary reality that gets me through every moment…grand or mournful.