There is an old photo on the wall of a room in my parents’ house. It shows a small village with a prominent church in a valley that is surrounded by forested slopes. The dedication at the back indicates that the small village is called “Middlevale”, which is half-way up the valley to the next settlement called “Upper Vale”. This is where my mother spent the first year of life, before her father finished the curacy in this relatively remote Black Forest valley and moved to his first position as minister. The dedication at the back tells how much the people of “Middlevale” valued the time my grandfather had spent there.
I could not help but reflect on the fact that the people who were so interested when their curate’s family had their first child, never really knew what happened with that child in later life. They probably were overjoyed at the little girl growing up in their midst, but never knew what would come of her. By now most of the people who knew my mother as a baby would have passed away.
They knew my mother, but I never knew them. The complex web of relationships is amazing, though it is somewhat sobering how much distance is created by a few years and physical separation. While modern technology can bridge some of that distance, it is still very much real.
Some connections remain across time and space. For example, my mother’s kindergarten friend is my god-mother and we are still in contact, even though everyone in this web of relationships moved frequently and our situation has changed over the years. Even though connections may be somewhat transitory, that does not mean that they are not important, and we never know which ones may endure or lead to surprising new connections. It is important to be fully present to the people we are with, even if we only travel a small part of this journey of life together.
As those who follow Jesus, we are also connected as children of God. I hope that makes parishioners more than someone we see quite often on Sundays.
Blessings – Tim