It's funny to look back on life and try to pinpoint the things that lead us to our most fulfilling callings. For me, the work that I am currently doing seems to be a culmination of so many fits and starts. But each fulfillment of a dream has some beginning. The seeds for this dream were planted in a small child in the heart of metro Denver.
I grew up a preachers kid. St. Paul's Lutheran was (and still is) a beautiful cathedral perched on the eastern edge of downtown Denver. With a worn red brick exterior and gorgeous stain glass windows, it was my second home for many of my formative years. I can still conjure up the smell of the church kitchen and the scents of wine and candle wax in the sacristy. I can feel the low droning of the huge pipe organ deep in my bones and the curve of the wooden pew that kept my toes from touching the ground. There was the sweet boy I had a crush on, ( a great way to keep a teen engaged in church), the cadre of little church grandmas who never failed to tell me each Sunday how much I had grown, the pastor whose sermons were always way over my head but who exuded jovial care, and at it's core, a heart that held the beat of social justice. I remember rallies on the steps of the capital, food drives, and small groups organizing boycotts and letter campaigns. A strong and steady undercurrent- the mortar in the blocks of memories.
Those memories and that mortar built a strong foundation, but one memory has become part of my cornerstone. It's a core memory that exists in bits and pieces- like ripped pages of a newspaper, in my mind. I was in early elementary school I think. My dad had taken a call from a parishioner that was in need. I don't remember much about her other than she was a little bit crazy and seemed to call often. She needed food. She lived on a busy street in a walk up row house. I remember yellow paint and a blaring tv. I think she also had a dog- who actually may have been a dog that we eventually adopted- it's all a little fuzzy. I remember walking up the steps to her door, dad carrying a bag of groceries and stepping into chaos. It was loud and crowded with stuff. I remember slinking behind my dad. From here, the memories are more of a kaleidoscope of colors, sounds and feelings than actual events. But the seed that was planted erupted some 30 years later. That seed contained a passion for serving on the margins. For stepping into another's chaos and seeing their humanity. For meeting basic human needs. For risk and for care. For living out the gospel. I am thankful for snatches of memory that remind me of the beginnings.