Every so often, something happens around FBC that strikes me as a small piece of the whole picture of who this church community is. I want to share a story of one of those happenings, but first, some background:
Last fall, some small things started going missing around the church: paper fliers from our bulletin boards in the Gathering Room. Glass stones from the prayer station in the sanctuary. Things like that. Those of us on staff had our suspicions of who might be taking the stuff – we suspected a woman that we see from time to time, at STAR, in worship, in the office looking for a listening ear. Since the items that were taken weren’t of significant value, we didn’t take any specific action, but we just all told each other we’d keep an eye on her.
She was present a little more this winter, mostly stopping in just to chat. She often brings me books. I think they come from the Little Free Libraries around town, but I keep them in their own stack, in case someone comes looking for them someday (some of their inside covers have other church’s names written in; I’ve got calls in to those places). And I wonder if another church down the street might have our old glass prayer stones.
Here’s what happened: A couple of weeks ago she stopped in and said to me, “I’m going to the coast. There’s a church there that opens up as a warming shelter in the winter. But before I go, I was wondering – is there anything I could take, from this church, as a gift to the church there?”
I was so taken aback I didn’t know what to offer. I went to my office and found a strand of origami cranes – I still have several of those from my installation service here, made by our children and youth. I took her one of the strands, and I told her, “You can take these. The cranes are a symbol of peace, so you can tell the church you’re going to that you come in peace, and bring our greetings to them, too.” She turned over the intricately folded paper in her hands, took in all the blues and greens and purples, held the birds delicately. She asked for a plastic bag to put them in so they wouldn’t get wet on her way. She said thank you, and left.
It may seem light a slight transformation, but it struck me as really significant. Because of the spirit of this place, this woman shifted from sneakily taking meaningless things to asking for a meaningful symbol. She wanted to carry a piece of FBC with her on her journey, to be able to offer it to the next place she lands. Now, when I look at the cranes that still sit in my window ledge, I’m reminded that with God, all things are possible.