December 23, 2004

Remembering Anne

She's been gone from us almost a year now, yet the memory of her is strong today as I sit in my favorite spot in the coffee shop and think about what I want to write for this article. Christmas was always a special time for her. She would always treat us well. We always received a giant box or two of candy from her to nibble on as the cold Christmas days passed. There was also a bottle of cologne or perfume, or some other little token of her appreciation for you that would come around Christmas. The most favorite thing for me was the annual lunch at The House of Ing. It was always enjoyable to sit with a plate of whatever buffet offerings they made that day and listen to her stories about the past, about things she had done or experienced in her life.

Anne Fischell was a great lady. She was always prim and proper when she came to church. She dressed as best she could. She always wore a dress hat of some sort. And she always sat in the same place—way back in the far corner of the old church building. After just spending a few moments with her, anyone could come to realize that she was a feisty, yet classy lady who loved her family and loved her church. She reminded me a lot of my grandmother, who had that same sense of dignity and fire within her personality. Maybe that was just one of the things people picked up that had lived through the rough times in the 1930s and 1940s here in America.

One specific conversation with Anne will stand out far above the rest for me. One time I went with two of the elders to visit her. We were visiting members of the church then to ask them to increase their giving some as we headed into the building project for our current building. As we sat there and talked with Anne, she shared how she didn’t have much more to give, but that she would give a little more. As our conversation strayed from finances, she looked directly at me and said, "I don’t much like your guitar. I would much rather hear a piano and an organ. But, I see the younger people who are coming because of the music style we use at South, and I’m ok with it."

In her words there is much for us to learn. Anne saw past the idea that it's always what I want. For her, it was what is better for them, not me. She didn't have much more to give, especially on her fixed income, but she did. She was one of our most faithful givers. She didn’t so much like the music, but she appreciated it because it was pulling people towards God. She was always there every Sunday, dressed as best she could in respect for God, always encouraging us as we participated in worshipping our God.

As Christians, how often do we let our opinions get in the way of the bigger picture? How often do we think that we should have it the way we want? How often do we get frustrated and pouty when we don’t get our way? Anne lived out the life of Jesus the best she could. She did what she could for her family and her church. She loved those around her. She showed them she loved them and appreciated them by simple things like lunch and chocolates. She was faithful and honest.

As we look to a new year of life, may we learn from Anne and put the life of Jesus more into the living of our lives. May we think and live not for ourselves, but for those around us that God has called us to love—brothers and sisters, friends, neighbors, and our enemies. (Mark 9 & 10, Matthew 20, Luke 6)