When I was 15 or 16 years old, I was into writing poetry. One of the short ones was titled
What is a minute in the course of eternity?
Every minute a life begins.
Every minute a life ends.
A minute is forever.
In going to the celebration service for Mary Kay Meeker, who died one month ago, I’ve realized that her lasting influence on me came in momentary interactions. I first met her as a 8 year old 4th grade camper (I was always young for my grade). For 7 summers, I looked forward to seeing Mary Kay. She was a constant, and someone who held attention by being attentive. Then I spent 2 1/2 summers on summer staff at the same camp, and had longer (though still brief) periods of contact- and she never ‘wasted’ time she spent with anyone. She made people feel as if they were the only one on the planet when she was talking with them. When I saw her in July of this year, it was the same thing. We had probably 20-30 minutes together, along with her husband Greg, and it was like we had been in regular contact over the years and were simply catching up. It was a very comfortable conversation that again made me feel like I mattered. And she is the reason I even made the effort to get there; my medical situation makes leaving home precarious- but she reassured me, and basically “told” me I’d get there and be just fine. 🙂
That was one of her gifts that I gravitated to the most over the years. I didn’t feel much consistency at home, but at camp I could depend on Mary Kay to be her usual (awesome) self. She was incredibly talented in various performance arts- music/piano, ventriloquism, drama, skit-writing, etc…. and as much as those talents caught the attention of the campers (and the staff), her ability to interact with people on a 1:1 basis was beyond what I knew from all but a very few people. During that time of my life, it made a huge difference in my relationship with God. She was the consistency I needed in order to understand a consistent and loving God- even if I didn’t see her all the time, she was the same each year at camp. Very few people in my life have shown me that so steadily.
She was a solid frame of reference for living as a Christian in a way that started when I was a little kid- in a way that a little kid could understand. She was able to apply Christ to various developmental stages, and that made the difference between telling a kid a story, and teaching a kid how to apply a life-lesson. The consecutive years at camp built on each layer of teaching from the year before, making a stronger foundation for my spiritual life and beliefs. It wasn’t lip service- it was walking the walk. I’m still working on being better at that- she is one of a handful of people that I consider my spiritual base and role model.
Her death has been really hard, and I somehow don’t feel the ‘right’ to feel her loss as deeply as I have. I didn’t have a lot of contact with Mary Kay, though we had been in touch on FaceBook over the last few months of her life. And seeing her again in July of this year was like I had been at camp just days before. We had ‘moments’ of a relationship. But she made moments count. Her interactions had impact. She didn’t waste her breath on pointless or unproductive speech. She could be as goofy as they come, but there was a consistent message that God comes first, and He’s got it all under control. She was incredibly silly at times, but not at the expense of her commitment to God. She could be intensely deep in her dramatic skits- and yet it wasn’t some plastic display. She was the real deal.
She is an example of how I want to live my life. I don’t want to waste time on stuff that essentially useless, or possibly hurtful. I don’t want to be one of ‘those’ Christians, who pushes people away from the faith we have in Jesus, and the promise of seeing each other again after death on earth. I want to be able to incorporate the silly things into a joyful way of living that lets others know that God has me in His arms. (I do believe God has a sense of humor…. ever look at an emu up close?). Even in her death, Mary Kay Meeker is showing me how to live. Each moment counts. Each moment can impact the rest of someone’s life. I need to be responsible, and make those moments time that can be used by God for His good. In the ‘end’, nothing else matters.