Stella writes: It is with mixed emotions I write this article, as it will be my last as Leader of the Lee Abbey Blackburn House. Later in the year I will be moving to take up the position of Associate Minister at St. Mary with St. Matthew Cheltenham.
On this beautiful day, I have just returned from telling one of the parishioners of my plans. We sat together looking at the time I arrived and at the practical help she gave packing boxes and helping me discover my way around Blackburn. We spoke of the up and downs of life and of God’s faithfulness in the midst of tribulation.
During the past ten years this lady has had her leg amputated and now moves around in a wheelchair. Following an active and full life, she has adapted wonderfully; when I broke my wrist in December 1999 she sent me a card in which she wrote, “You have been my legs; let me be your hands ― I would love to write your Christmas cards for you.” On several occasions I visited her and she wrote messages in various cards for me. At the end she said, “I almost feel I am acquainted with your many Lee Abbey friends who live in other parts of the country now.”
This lady is one of many of the St. James’ congregation where mutual love and respect has grown as we have walked the Christian journey together in Blackburn. Preparing to leave the church family of St. James’ and the wider Darwen Churches Partnership will leave a large gap in my life; I will look back on my time in Blackbum as a place where friendships have been created and new life formed out of adversity. These friendships I know will endure beyond my time spent in Blackburn.
As I left Margaret I felt a sadness that comes from knowing what it is to give and receive love, the most precious gift God has entrusted to us. I have spent the afternoon writing reports and articles which has focused my mind on the cost of following Jesus. Our journey is a pilgrim one: on the way we meet many people, share stories and experiences and draw close to those whose lives are knitted together with our own. Leaving behind those who have become part or our lives is not easy but we rejoice that our parting is only temporary, with memories written in the heart.
All who love the Lord Jesus and are committed to his way will meet again; until then, God’s love and peace be with us all. My thanks to the numerous Lee Abbey friends who have prayed for and supported me in varied ways during my 16 years as a member of the Community.
God’ s richest blessing and peace to you all.