Moderator for the Presbyterian Women
in the Presbytery of Des Moines
Corresponding Secretary (2015)
Recording Secretary (2013)
Mission Matters (2015)
Resources & HORIZONS (2014)
Justice & Peace (2015)
Clergywoman Rep 2013
Search Committee 2013
PWP Liaison to Leadership Council
Area # 1 Coordinator (2014)
Area # 2 Coordinator (2013)
Area # 3 Coordinator (2013)
Area # 4 Coordinator (2015)
Why are you here?
That question was asked of a couple of women seated at a convention hall lounge in the Gaylord Palms Resort, “home” of the 2012 Churchwide Gathering for Presbyterian Women in July. It was following a much needed break for voting representatives engaging in the business meeting. The woman inquiring had seriousness in her tone of voice, accompanied with a slight smile of friendliness. The responses were the expected, “I want to learn about the mission of PW” and “I’ve heard how wonderful the Gathering is and wanted to find out for myself.” Each of us strangers, there was a pause as we were curious as to her questioning. I knew that I was next to respond, so was mindfully preparing and replied with “I have been before and found it an awe-inspiring experience being with active Presbyterian Women from all over the world.” She tilted her head in acceptance of our answers.
I couldn’t let it rest at that and asked her why she was asking and why she came. “I am an unwilling participant.” My heart sank… what does that mean? Why would she come if she wasn’t desiring to be there? She carried on our, now, private conversation, telling me that she had a memorial service for her husband on Monday (this was Thursday of the same week). After giving her my condolences and tears streaming down my face before I knew it, I reached out for her hand and held it. “I’m so sorry,” I uttered. I suddenly knew the real reason I was here. Nothing else mattered at that moment and I listened to her story of “expecting his death to happen, but not yet, as he was an alcoholic.” The conversation was deep and I listened with a disturbed heart. I could sense she was a strong woman who had endured a lot and would continue to endure and I told her so. With surprise and doubt, she received the words.
The break had come to an end, but not without expressions of hope for my new- found Presbyterian Woman friend. To my surprise, later in the meeting, she went to the microphone and spoke with confidence about her concern on an issue we were soon to vote on. She was a strong woman.
The following afternoon, God placed the two of us together at the meeting break. What a gift to talk to her, again. I had discovered that a chaplain was on site each day at Spirit Island at the Gathering and shared that with her, during our chance meeting. She appreciated that information and went seeking answers to the many questions she’d encountered in this new journey of grief that she did not want to take. She excitedly rushed off; I told her that she would certainly be excused from the final minutes of the meeting, if she wanted to talk to the chaplain. You could see the HOPE and relief in her eyes.
“Why are you here?” is a good question to ask of ourselves each and every day. May God use you in unexpected ways. And, thanks for placing me as your voting representative at Churchwide. It was another “growing experience”. I hope you can all go in three years, as Churchwide will be in Minneapolis- close to home.
PW of the Des Moines Presbyery