As a person who was involved in Sunday school every 7th day for 18 years of my life I can honestly say that Sunday school teachers have had a noteable impact on my life. I’ll always have memories of Victoria Keister decorating the walls with paper trees and animals in the kindergarten room and Ralph and Maggie forcing us to memorize a verse a week in the middle school room. I still remember a little rhyme song we made up to remember “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come in an eat with him and him with me.” I would tell you where that verse is found but I never could fit in with the rhythm so to this day I just say “dumdum dumdum dum 30” because it rhymes with the last word to finish it off. Oh well, more importantly the verse has stuck with me so I guess their work was not in vain!
The accompanying photo is the choir I was hired to play my oboe with today. Carol Nelson, the director of the Heart of the Valley Children’s Choirs that I sang with for 9 years, took on this church choir about 4 years ago and when they started it was exactly what you would expect a church choir to be – not good. In that short amount of time she has turned them into a completely different group that really was a pleasure to play with! In fact, they just got back from a tour in Austria! I think we need a resurgence of really great church choirs, how about you?
Finally, is an experience that has been weighing heavily on my heart since it happened just a short while ago. While waiting for the bus back to Portland an elderly woman approached me and at first it sounded like she wanted to help me and was wondering why I was hanging around the station when I finally understood that she is homeless and was asking for my assistance finding a shelter and giving her a ride to a safe place for the night. I tried looking up a mission phone number to call so that she would know if there was room before she hiked around looking for a bed. She said that the night before she found her way to a mission but was turned away to spend the night outside. As much as I googled I wasn’t having any luck and I tried directing her to the McDonalds she was seeking and some shelters in the area when my bus finally arrived. Now that I’m sitting here on my comfortable seat on my way home from an enjoyable weekend with my family and fiancé I can’t help but feel guilty. In all honesty I could have spared a couple bills for her to buy dinner and if I had accepted her request from the beginning I surely could have driven her to the nearby shelter and still caught my bus. To be completely honest, people on the margins scare me. They scare me not only because of the real threats that they can pose to my safety but also more prominently because of the misconceptions that I carry with their social titles. It also is unnerving to me because I’ve never been there. Tonight I’m going to sleep in my own bed and know that there is food in the cupboard and her life is so radically different from mine that I immediately freeze, not even knowing how to react. The biggest reason she had an impact on me, more than any other person that I’ve encountered, is the question that I have to pose for myself about my hesitance. I believed her – I don’t think she was lying to me. She wasn’t a threat – she was a frail elderly woman struggling to carry her small bags of belongings. And finally, she needed my help – that isn’t even a question. And yet the only thing I could offer her as I gathered my bags and got up to meet the bus was prayer. Why? Why didn’t I feel obliged to help someone in obvious need? She realized by now that I wasn’t her Good Samaritan of the night and was already wandering away from me and didn’t answer my offer of a spiritual spiritual ‘donation’. When my fingers finally finish typing this whole story out on my fancy phone I am going to pray for her and I trust that God will keep her safe and set someone in her path has more strength than me to do some real good for her.