Maybe it was the passing of Maya Angelou or Anne Thomas Neil, matron saint of Baptist women, that made me stop and re-evaluate my life. These women made a real impact on the world.
I’m over the halfway mark and I’ve barely made a dent.
These were the thoughts I took into my most recent session with my spiritual director. I was struggling to balance “to whom much is given, much is required” with “be still and know that I am God.” What is it we are here on earth for; what is my purpose in life?
I only need to look to my dear friend Clarice to find the answer to that question.
I met Clarice when she was in her mid-70’s. She and her husband retired to Chapel Hill and began attending our church. She was one of those people you couldn’t help but notice, like a bright light in a dark room. She was breathtakingly beautiful and radiated love.
It was the love that connected me to her, and not just me, but my husband and daughter. In a very short period of time, we had been “adopted” by her, really made a part of her family. Clarice had an endless capacity to love; she loved her parents and brother and sister, her husband, her in-laws, her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and cousins. And then she loved her friends, all of her friends; and she loved them deeply and sincerely.
Clarice, too, questioned whether she had done enough in this life. I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to tell her that I thought her special gift was the way she loved people. That kind of love doesn’t come out of a void. It comes from being loved by God.
Clarice was loved by God and loved God back, and that love then overflowed onto to everyone she met.
What is it we are here on earth for? To be loved by God, to love God back, and to love our “neighbors.” We might not make the headlines for doing that, but we will make an impact. I know Clarice made a dent in my life that will always be with me.
Clarice died on Easter Sunday this year; but her love remains.
I’m going to quit wondering what people will say about me when I die and do what I was created to do—love God and love people, just like my dear “ordinary saint” friend, Clarice.
Rev. Virginia Taylor has served several churches in North Carolina, most recently as the pastor of Lystra Baptist Church in Chapel Hill. Currently, she is an itinerant pastor and the Community and University Relations Coordinator for the William and Ida Friday Center for Continuing Education at UNC Chapel Hill.