pastoral/spiritual care

God's Presence in the Unfamiliar

Recently, I was thinking back on my very first day of school.  I can remember how excited I was as I ate my oatmeal that morning, the anticipation of a new adventure mixed with fear of the unknown.  I walked into school holding my mother’s hand and in the other hand clutching my new satchel.  It was fire engine red with shiny silver buckles, and the word “Annie” emblazoned on it in black and white over a picture of the title character from my favorite movie.  Soon, it was time to let go of my mother, but I held on to my “Annie” satchel as I met my teacher, Mrs. Brown, and the other kindergarteners.  When I finally had to put it down in the back of the room with everyone else’s satchels and backpacks, I looked back frequently to reassure myself it was still there.  It was the one thing in the room that was familiar, a comforting piece of home and reminder of those who loved me there.

Different objects have served that same function at various points in my life, at a place of new beginnings where I needed something familiar to hold.  Eventually, though, I came to see that all of these things were not really necessary.  It was not what I carried in my hands that made a new situation less scary, but remembering that God was carrying me and that wherever I went, I was not alone.  The Spirit of God goes ahead of us and accompanies us into each new adventure.  We may not be able to turn around and catch a reassuring glimpse of God like I could with my satchel, but we can rest assured of God’s presence within us.  Whatever we may be walking into today, we do not go in alone.

God, thank you for being our companion.  How amazing it is that you have put your Spirit within us for always.  Help us to remember that whenever we are feeling alone or unloved or need the comforts of home.  We trust you to carry us through.  Amen.

-- Chaplain Stacy N. Sergent

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