Before Heather and I moved overseas, we had the privilege of befriending a very dear couple in Colorado Springs: Pat and Larry Dickinson.
Pat was Heather’s mentor through a church we were attending. That friendship began more than fifteen years ago and continues to be a treasured blessing to this day. Pat was like a mother to Heather, something that is particularly meaningful since Heather’s mother died when Heather was still in college.
I have received a bonus from Heather’s friendship to Pat, because she has blessed my life in so many ways as well. Why is it we almost always wait too long to give expression to words of gratitude that have been there all the time? Today is Pat’s birthday so I thought this would be the perfect time to celebrate her life.
When I think of Pat I think of the joy she brings to so many people. She brightens up whatever room she enters. Her smile is the broadest I have ever seen in my life, no kidding. She loves to laugh! Of course, her eyes keep in step perfectly with her smile. Those bright eyes have encouraged many a deflated soul, I’m sure.
I also think of the word “generosity”. We had been trying to raise financial support for some time to begin our mission work overseas but it was slow going. When Heather got pregnant we worried how we were going to make ends meet. So, Pat and Larry said, “Come live with us!” They had a bonus room on the back of their house that had a separate exterior entrance. The room had a sink, a refrigerator, a half bath, some counters and cupboards. They told us they wanted to use this space to help missionaries so they said the only condition to living there was that we would not pay them any rent.
Er, that was a hard decision to make. :)
The room was connected to the main house by an interior door as well. We often kept that door open. We were family, after all.
I still remember standing at that door after Meaghan was born. When our baby began crawling, we put up a gate in the doorway because we wanted to keep the door open but there was a potentially dangerous step to consider. Many times Pat would walk by and stop to chat with her back-room neighbors. She’d lock eyes with Meaghan and laugh for joy, bringing smiles to all our faces.
When Jesus walked this earth he came proclaiming a different kind of kingdom. He described this kingdom in parables and short teachings. He told us the kingdom of heaven is like a small seed, the smallest of seeds around. Yet, when that seed is planted it grows and grows into a large plant, providing shade and a nesting place for wandering birds who would otherwise be homeless.
Pat, thanks for being like that small seed. You embody the hospitality of God. We stayed with you but a short season, yet we will always remember the shade God provided through you. And we know we are among the numbered sparrows by the loving Father of us all thanks to your welcome. I feel as though we've had a preview of heaven through your hospitality--that it will be a place with a small door somewhere, suitable for chatting but too small to frame your smile.