October 6, 2019
I would consider my faith journey to be a novel, with many chapters. Fristad Lutheran is my source for a solid Lutheran foundation that has been the “yellow brick road” on my journey. My faith journey begins with a decision made for me and an act that was a gift. I reflect back now with a deeper appreciation of how powerful the act of Baptism is. It was at that moment in Baptism when I was declared a child of God and marked by the sign of the cross forever that my faith journey begins.
Music had a significant role in my life. Years of piano lessons provided me multiple music opportunities as my talent developed. While in High School, I began organ lessons in preparation to fulfill my dream of becoming Church Organist. Music, piano and organ had become an important thread in my journey and cultivated my faith.
Confirmation was an introduction to an understanding of my Lutheran faith. Pastor Gustufson introduced me to an understanding of Martin Luther, his teachings, an awareness of social injustice and the responsibilities of belonging to a Christian community. Pastor Gustafson’s ministry has influenced my pilgrimage throughout my travels.
While in High School, I felt a calling to the Deaconess Ministry and was invited to visit the Motherhouse in Philadelphia. It was a revealing visit into my faith and I was more convinced that my life definitely would be in the Church, however unsure if it would be as a Deaconess.
In 1976, I realized my lifelong dream in becoming a nurse. I graduated from the only sensible nursing school that I would attend, Lutheran Deaconess in Minneapolis. As I started out in my nursing career I came to cherish more each day my education at Lutheran Deaconess. My faith had been cultivated further, weaving my nursing education with my faith responsibilities and those in caring for the sick.
In the early 80’s, I embarked on a pilgrimage tracing the footsteps of Martin Luther in West and East Germany. The Luther pilgrimage was led by Pastor Herb Brokering, a Lutheran educator. My pilgrimage was very insightful into Luther’s teachings, his struggles and his work to advocate for those marginalized in our Christian community. Not only did my Pilgrimage strengthen my Lutheran faith but I also became aware of how fortunate I was to have my life of freedom versus one of oppression in Eastern Germany. My awareness of social injustice and the realization that it is my Christian responsibility to advocate for those who are marginalized was further strengthened.
I made the decision in 1986 to move to North Carolina, fulfilling a desire to challenge myself in surviving an unknown. After my move, I had multiple excuses for not finding a church connection and soon year after year, my time away from Church just made it too hard to go back. However, during my period of disconnect, I still realized and sensed that I had a presence in my life protecting me. My Grandmother had instilled my belief at a young age that I was protected by my “Guardian Angel” and most importantly, I was never alone. I may have been lost in my faith at this time but I had an awareness of a spiritual connection always present in my life. As I began to look forward to Retirement, my life started an uncontrolled spiral into despair. It was a frightening moment for someone who prided herself always in control. The deep abyss became darker and darker and I found myself on a merry-go-round with no way off. Realizing that I needed help, I acknowledged to family that I could not manage this merry-go-round on my own and was falling into a state of deep despair. My brother became my Parish Caregiver and shared his faith journey story, the Church connection he had made and the support he found within his Church community. He offered words of encouragement suggesting I pull on the roots of my faith and look for strength in returning to a place of familiarity. I needed to walk back through familiar doors that had never closed, instead it was my actions that had closed the Church doors. Between family, faith and professional support, I was able to climb out of the dark abyss. Life again became good. My final years as a nurse found my ministry roles reversed. On many occasions, my patients were now ministering to me. My patients expressed kind words of gratitude that I was their nurse and most importantly, words of affirmation that I had made the right decision to become a nurse. I cherish so many of the lessons I learned from my patients sharing our faith stories.
Last fall, during the Almelund Sampler I was inspired by the music of the day and the Holy Spirit. While I listened to the music I watched how the Spirit moved the musicians and then quietly speak in my heart. In the weeks ahead that voice became louder and I then shared with Royce a decision that I had made. His surprising reply was “Are you sure? I can tell you that Immanuel will not say no to your offer”. It was most appropriate that I move this piano to a church, the place that had such an influence in my life and Immanuel would be the perfect home. The piano has indeed found a loving home at Immanuel and I am grateful to hear the beautiful songs as the piano sings once again.
So my stewardship talents have been woven throughout the tapestry of my faith pilgrimage. My faith tapestry is woven with musical gifts, Christian love caring for the sick and advocating for the needs of those in my care. Immanuel is a reflection of these words from Martin Luther: “Next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise. The gift of language combined with the gift of song was given to man that he should proclaim the Word of God through Music.” End quote. This is the language of music, the word of God and our connection with God. And this is the language spoken at Immanuel.