Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Two Roads Diverged

(Tina Simon sent this in)

Dear Phil,

I’ve been thinking about what to say. Fifteen years is a long time. As Marion’s Tenth press points out, you came to Tenth with one child, you now have five. This is just one symbol of how much can happen in fifteen years.

When you came to Tenth, no one could predict that you would soon be taking over some of Marion’s responsibilities in a few years. No one even imagined that you would be senior minister quite so soon. Yet, God has so graciously blessed us all through all these unexpected, and sometimes very painful, changes. Our God is a God of paradox—who else could draw joy in pain or triumph on a cross.

I think of some of your Windows on the World. I remember being almost startled as you’ve spoken about the selling of your parents home and memories of your grandmother to realize how symbolic in thought you are. I’ve found this to be a rare trait today. I remember you speaking of all the memories in the house, the way in which this was symbolic of growing older and moving on, which is painful but also anticipatory.

Despite what our culture may think, I believe that the fall is even more beautiful than the spring, and I believe that evening is richer than the morning. I believe that the wisdom gained with age makes one’s life richer and more full-bodied, as with good wine or cheese. Since becoming a Christian, I look forward to the adventure of life--even when the next turn leads to a dark tunnel--I just wait for God who is the God of the Paradox to lead me through and out. But, my heart also often breaks.

You are walking (to say driving seems too quick and isolated a picture) over a type of “off-ramp); it leads out the door of Tenth and in the door of Wheaton, but first, you have to get over that bumpy hill that runs between the two roads. Transitioning from the highway to the off-ramp to the other highway is always an unnerving endeavor. I know that the Lord will get you over that off-ramp and that you will find great blessing on this new highway, but for now, there’s the lump in the throat, and all the sweet memories to steer around and through before you take that new place and merge into the traffic on that new highway called Wheaton. Then, it’s not quite over, you have to make yourself comfortable on this new highway, have to get familiar with its landmarks.

Tenth, too, is transitioning. There’s comfort in the clicking of the familiar and known highway. It is smooth, we know it well, there are no complicated transitions. Perhaps, we are at risk of falling asleep? Either way, God has tossed all of us a sudden road map change. We must also weave and dodge right through the middle of all of our dearest memories. We must learn how to integrate this past into our future. We must find a way to allow our past to positively paint a pastiche on this new highway without drowning our new picture with only old colors. (I do not think Christians should speak of “purging the past” because there is too much richness in with the dross; it’s much more that we must separate the wheat from the tares and learn from and how to integrate our past into our present.)

Yes, I can use any aspect of the arts to tell this story of transition. Like a New Orleans funeral, we begin with a dirge and end with a dance. What a wonderful life what an exciting world God has given to us. But, only he knows the whole story; ours is to walk one step at a time and hold our Father’s hand in trust.

Since January, we have seen the home going of Beverly Palmer and Phil Beauford who were well woven into the fabric of Tenth. We have also seen, which was a great though joyous surprise, the marriage and retirement of Cora. She, too, is in transition to a new life in New Hampshire. Now, you will go to Wheaton. What will God do with Tenth next? I am sad and nervous, yet I’m also excited. I am excited for you, too. I hope we will hear much about you and Wheaton over the next years. I pray that your connection with us will not be severed but only changed.

As Christians, we made that first and most important decision when we saw two roads diverged in a yellow wood...we took the one less traveled by, and for all of us Christians, that has made all the difference.  May God richly bless you and your family.

With love, prayers, and many blessings,
Tina Simon


Blogger Judith Sue Mattson said...

Thank you Tina for this loving and thoughtful tribute. You so aptly described this time of transition and help us to see the clarity of His work.

1:52 AM  

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