A BRANCH OF HOPE
During the fall of 2000, my church held a series entitled "Kairos Moments." They are brief but meaningful experiences which touch our lives and help us to grow spiritually. During the Christmas season, I experienced a "Kairos Moment." It was totally unexpected, but it was the hope that I was looking for in this time of my life.
Over the last few years, I have been struggling with job burnout, ill health and loneliness. It seemed like my life was going nowhere. My job was not exciting anymore and my physical health was suffering. It seemed as if others around me were happy and fulfilling their dreams. As a result, I became quite depressed and lonely. I began to feel sorry for myself and wondered where I fit into this world.
After much contemplation and quiet meditation, I decided to talk to my friend, Lucy about my dilemma. She listened, asked questions, and offered advice about getting my life back on track. We brainstormed and discussed ideas about making the necessary changes that would improve my self-esteem and outlook on life. We focused on my strengths and formulated a plan on improving my weaknesses. Then, we looked at areas to work on one step at a time. First, we talked at great length about my career aspirations and how to obtain a position based upon my interests and qualifications.
I told Lucy that the one thing in life that I enjoy doing most is writing. I revealed my creative side to her and talked about my writing experience over the years. During the course of my life, I have kept a personal journal, written letters to friends and relatives, created short stories and composed poetry. I knew that I had always enjoyed writing, but was uncertain about pursuing my dream.
For nearly six years, I had been working as a Customer Serviced Representative in a corporate setting. I had not been completely satisfied working in a fast-paced environment with little room for my creative energy to grow. So, I felt a strong nudge from God leading me to enter a different career path. After much thought and prayer, I decided to take a leave of absence from my job to clear my mind, rest my weary soul, and re-evaluate how I was going to reach my future goals.
During my time away from the corporate atmosphere, I was able to quietly think and compose a detailed business plan. In my free time, I worked on numerous creative projects, in such areas as poetry, short stories and inspirational essays. Then, I submitted them to several publishers for potential publication, as well as entry into national writing competitions.
After talking to my friend, Lucy about my desire to become a journalist, she referred me
to a renowned writer and poet from the Buffalo region. I was ecstatic and nervous at the same time. So, after I called Jinny to schedule our first meeting, I began revising and perfecting my poems. Just the thought of sharing my work with an established writer was quite exciting for me. Finally, I began to realize that God was listening to my prayers and was opening a door in my life.
From the moment I arrived at the doorstop of her quaint gingerbread-style home, I was instantly whisked away to another place. Her adorable white dog, Dolly greeted me with a friendly bark as I entered the house. Then, I met her bubbly friend, Kelly, who is a local theater actress.
Jinny's home was filled with a unique and creative Victorian charm: stained glass
windows and Tiffany lamps, antique glassware, paintings and an eclectic selection of books. I just felt completely at home here.
Jinny and I sat cozily at her antique dining room table while sipping gourmet coffee and discussing our writing backgrounds. She is a retired schoolteacher who conducts writing workshops and coaches novice writers. Jinny originated from North Carolina and moved to Buffalo to attend college. After talking to Jinny for awhile, I discovered many similarities between us. We both graduated from the same college and also traveled to Paris, France.
During our poetry meeting, we shared several meaningful poems with one another. We discussed the thoughts and hidden emotions behind each one. After we read our poems, we discovered many intricate details about our lives. At the end of our first visit, we decided to meet again. So, Jinny gave me an assignment, and offered suggestions about more creative ways of writing poetry.
In preparation for our next meeting, I doggedly composed several more poems, which I read to Jinny with such enthusiasm. She also read some of her poems and talked about a childhood experience, which was heartfelt. For me, it was exhilarating and wonderful to share my poems with her because, she was the first one to hear them aloud. At first, I was hesitant and timid about reading them, for fear of criticism or harsh remarks. But, after I shared a couple of poems with Jinny, I was more relaxed and at ease. I was happy when Jinny asked me to read particular poems repeatedly. I also appreciated her compliments and delighted in watching her facial expressions as I read them aloud. Sometimes, after reading a certain verse, she would smile or laugh. This was extremely encouraging because someone finally believed in me. Jinny was such a likable, gentle, and serene woman.
During our last meeting, she talked about sound and play of words when writing poetry. At the end of the visit, Jinny walked me to the door, and wished me a "Merry Christmas." Then, she handed me a special gift which I shall always treasure. It was a branch from her live Christmas tree, but it was no ordinary branch. For it was in the shape of a cross. I stared at it for a moment as I sniffed the powerful pine aroma. Suddenly, I could feel God's presence all around me. I could sense that I was in this place for a reason.
For several months, I was praying and searching for a sign from God to help me escape from my depression. At times, I felt like there was no way out of this mess, and that God wasn't listening to my prayers. But, when I met Jinny, I began to feel hopeful again. Gradually, my life started to change for the better. I realized that God had brought this remarkable woman into my life to show me how to live again. And, that each person whom we meet plays a unique role in shaping who we will become down the road.
So, as I look ahead into the future, I am ready to be open to whatever God has in store for me. I have discovered many important things about myself. I have also learned several valuable life lessons as a result of my trials and struggles over the course of my life.
That first poetry meeting with Jinny became a steppingstone in helping me to get my life back on track. I consider her an angel from God who has given me faith and hope. As a result of my experiences, I have become a stronger woman and believer of God. She has played a significant part in my journey towards self-discovery. I thank God for bringing her into my life and helping me to discover my creative gifts. As a result of my writing, I have been able to work through the painful periods during my life. I realize now that even through the darkest valleys of our lives, that God's light is always shining if we will only trust him to guide us.
My writing has become a true blessing from God and I know in my heart, that he has called me to enter this path. He has given me passion and purpose again. And for this, I am eternally grateful. It is my goal to help others who have lost their way in this world; to inspire, help them to grow spiritually, and develop confidence in themselves. I wish to offer a branch of hope like the one that Jinny gave to me this Christmas. For, I consider it to be the beginning of God's many precious gifts that he has in store for me.