October now. Its’ wool sweaters, shorter days, darker nights and dropping temperatures direct me toward quiet and reflection; toward the winter that is coming both literally and metaphorically. I move my down jackets to the center of the closet, and put my mittens and scarves within easy reach. I light a candle. I open my worn journal to record my thoughts but I only sit and stare…I wonder and reflect. It’s nice. It’s unusual. It’s quiet.
My thoughts meander a bit but eventually land, as they often do, on the people and relationships that have touched me most recently. I do a little self-investigation as to how I may or may not have reacted with the right words, the wrong words, a warm cup of coffee or a cool glass of water. Was I hospitable to their situation? Was I judgmental instead? Did my words cut like a knife, or was I affirming and gentle? Did I point them?
In mid-August I had the delightful experience of reconnecting with two old friends. They are a missionary/pastor couple with whom I’ve crossed paths many times over the last twenty years or so. We have served on multiple committees and projects together and have countless people in common. We were never the best of friends or within one another’s inner-circle, but I can say we know each other relatively well. Definitely to the point of not being afraid to be honest and we can take a general conversation to the next level quite quickly. We spent three lovely days together; the kind of blue-sky days that are life-giving, with good food, chance meetings and a bit of adventure. It was glorious! We hugged good-bye at the train station that chilly early morning and I walked back to my car. My spirit was easy and my burden felt light for the first time in a long time.
Because…they pointed me.
They are pointers. They are masters at directing conversation, without manipulating, to things of spiritual and significant value, without judgment. Without. Judgment. They stand firm in their “yes”, and unyielding in their “no”, and they project all of that with love and grace and mercy. They are followers of Jesus Christ. They know their position deeply and study the theology regularly. They pray and read and expand, yet don’t waiver from the Truth of their convictions.
I took a minute to think about the word “pointing”. It’s generally met with a negative connotation and the use of the word sounds rather harsh, so I went to a trusty thesaurus and found that one synonym for pointing is “steering”. That’s nice, a bit softer.
My friends were settling in to their seats on their west bound train and I was driving home. The pointers of my life were passing across my mind’s eye one by one. Those men, women and children who have turned my heart toward matters of faith. Those people who have asked the hard questions and recognized that the answers are often messy. Those people who have steered me toward a better version of myself; like repositioning the rudder of my life. My childhood piano teacher. My partners in prayer ministry. My husband. Our children. The woman I sat next to so many years ago in choir practice. The homeless man in Chicago who told me to stay on the narrow way. The Syrian woman in my language class who asked me about “home”. Rosemary. Jerry. Beth. Karen. Art. Edrin. Callie. Heather. Dennis. Mary Lynn. Gordon. Geneva. Patti. Tracey. Pete.
I parked my car, went inside and poured the last bit of coffee. I missed my friends. I sat alone at the table by the window. I stared. I took a deep breath or two. Then my thoughts settled:
Who have I pointed lately?