I generally do not do research for my personal blog posts, but took a minute (maybe less) for this one to look up the word Pastor. I had to look it up because I was curious to see if the definition covered being one’s best friend.
The following shows up as the first listing in my extensive research, a Google search on the word Pastor:
late Middle English: from Anglo-Norman French pastour, from Latin pastor ‘shepherd’, from past- ‘fed, grazed’, from the verb pascere .
I really did expect that friend or best friend would possibly be the primary definition. That is what my five year old daughter, Ruth, continues to call Pastor Karen Bruins when she asks if we are going to go see her new church. The answer is yes we will go see her.
Our Pastor, Pastor Karen Bruins, left The Well in Rosemount, MN and moved on to Lake Harriet Church in the last couple of weeks. Besides being Ruth’s best friend she did fulfill the origin of the word Pastor as my shepherd in rediscovering my own faith, bringing my 11-year old son closer to God and Jesus and I firmly believe in guiding us to preserve the foundation of our family together during some of our rockiest times.
Karen was preaching the day our family decided to start going to church together to help us deal with a difficult time. While I was definitely pessimistic about the impact attending church would have on us at the time, I am thankful every day that we found Karen at the Rosemount United Methodist Church, as it was known then.
The church as a community provided much needed time for reflection at the time. Reflection is something that I do daily now, but without The Well I doubt that I would be doing it at all.
We were barely known at the church and Graham was not sure about the whole youth programming thing and didn’t want to be away from us so he would go to services with us. He rarely sat with us though and instead would go sit with Karen in the front row, who at first I am sure hardly knew who this kid was. Graham never referred to Karen as his best friend like Ruth does, but he did wear his Boston Bruins t-shirt to church more often than any other clothing. Karen had to get a picture with him the first time he wore it and I think he would have taken that picture every time he wore it.
Eventually, Graham did start going to youth programming and actually all the way through to not having the option for youth programming on Sundays and having to go to services with Mom and Dad. We don’t make every Sunday, but we made sure we were there on Karen’s last day.
While we had known for some time about Karen moving on, I chose not to tell Ruth until the night before her last service. Ruth as expected started to cry and the first words she said as she cried was, “But she’s my best friend.” Once she knew Karen would be close enough to visit and that we would be able to see her before she left she fell asleep.
The following day at service the line to hug Karen was long and given the amount of patience that runs in the whole family, relatively little, we decided to find another time to see Karen. It required pulling Ruth out of preschool and Graham out of middle school for a couple of hours, but we made it happen.
She sat and talked with the kids and my heart smiled while all the memories flowed.
From day one of me being pessimistic about church, to the hours I spent playing with the kids in the church community at Kids Camp to being invited to be part of the Wednesday night senior high programming.
I thought about Karen sharing all the stories of her kids, her dogs, her husband and all the memories of the babies she talked about baptizing. I could see her clear as day carrying the baby and handing the baby off to a member of the church community as part of the baptism. Then memories of her baptizing Ruth who made the decision to be baptized. Ruth’s baptism also marked the day that Karen reconfirmed my own baptism that to me was the moment I was shepherded back to God.
The memories of the discussion that led to my reconfirmation led to thinking about the time that I had spent with Karen in her office talking about my faith. I fondly recalled the invitation to share my story of my faith journey with the church. Then the memory of the last time we met with me sitting with her to talk about what I wanted to do with my own career when I was presented with some decisions. I was really looking for Karen to shepherd me down the right path, but instead she brought out what she knew was already in me.
I was then brought back around to her drive down to see me in the hospital in Rochester. She sat with Kim and I and prayed with us. She gave me my prayer blankey that I held on to with all my might as I sweat through the pain and didn’t really have any idea what the rest of my life held.
As I came back to the conversation she was having with Ruth and Graham, part of me was only momentarily inclined to be sad. However, I went immediately for being happy for everything that Karen brought to me and our family. I also know Lake Harriet isn’t that far away. Hugs and pictures soon followed and as we parted ways I thanked her for helping me on my journey, a journey that she reminded me was not over.
I headed back home and wrote the following:
Thank you for being our Pastor, friend (Ruth’s best friend) and for everything that you did to show us the importance of Faith in our lives. You were there when we needed you and I know that you moving on only marks that you are needed more by someone else.
I value the time that we had you as our Pastor more than words can ever express. My life, our lives, have meaning beyond what we could have ever imagined because of your caring and guidance.
I hope our continuing journeys will continue to cross paths,
Until Next Time,
Ruth and Graham’s Dad
Follower of Jesus Christ re-established April 9, 2018