January 21, 2016—Do you have a set of bookends in your office or study? I’m not talking about the metal brackets you find in libraries. I’m talking about real bookends, made of wood or rock or other sturdy substances. I have a set of bookends made from large pieces of quartz that belonged to my husband’s grandfather, who passed them down to my father-in-law, who passed them on to us. They are packed away with most of my office and books because at the end of August, I took a new call, which involved moving – a major move of 1500 miles across the country.
Despite a deep sense of call and continual reassurance from God through the voices of others that this was the right place, it was nevertheless traumatic. We moved into temporary housing, put all our stuff in storage, and tried to find our way in a new place and a new culture. Eventually, we purchased a house and moved in … sort of. Most of our possessions are still in boxes as we’re remodeling the house.
Living in a new place is hard enough, but living without the familiar objects around you that make a new house into a home is even harder – pictures, books, even pots and pans. The unfamiliar can be emotionally overwhelming and exhausting at times, and I long for something solid to anchor me. Every so often it hits me. I had one of those melt-down moments this past week as I struggled to look for a book I know I have. I would have known where it was on the bookshelf in my old house, but here, I had no clue which box to begin looking in, because the study isn’t finished yet.
That’s when the image of the bookends struck me. The book I was looking for used to be held up by those sturdy, quartz bookends. Those bookends held my books upright, held them solidly in place and allowed them to stand straight and be supported. It felt like I didn’t have any “bookends” in my life anymore. I felt as if all the things that used to hold me up and support me had vanished. At least, it didn’t feel sturdy anymore. After a little pity party, I resumed looking for the book. Eventually, I found it, but I also found the bookends. As I held them in my hands, I began to think about all the “bookends” in my life; all the people who have held me up and supported me and continue to do so even in a new place. I needed some “bookend” support, so I connected with colleagues, friends, and family who have been and continue to be rock-solid support for me.
I may have left the rocks and the mountains and exchanged them for the sand and the sea, but God has not abandoned me, of that I am certain; and the “bookend” people in my life are just a few seconds away. And who knows … I may find some new “bookends” in a new place!
Rev. Dr. Holly J. Inglis serves as the Associate Pastor for Nurture at Palms Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. She has served as a Church Educator in the PC(USA) since 1997, most recently at Wellshire Presbyterian Church in Denver, Colorado. Holly is a Certified Christian Educator and received her DEdMin from Columbia Theological Seminary in 2012. She serves as Moderator of the Advocacy Ministry Team of the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators and is President of the organization through 2017.
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