Walking Our Faith: What is your calling? | SummitDaily.com

Walking Our Faith: What is your calling?

Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson
Walking Our Faith

I spent the last two weeks at a friend’s beach condo with Mom. As always, our time together was precious and too short. One of the most remarkable moments came after Mom returned to her apartment Saturday afternoon because she wanted to give me a couple days at the beach on my own before I returned to Breckenridge.  

I called Sunday morning expecting her to tell me how much she missed me, hated being alone and perhaps she’d want to return to the beach. Instead I could barely hear her over the sound of her friends and neighbors talking in the background.

My mother can maintain her independence at the age of 92 thanks in part to help from these same friends and neighbors. Bob takes her to church Sunday mornings, to choir practice Wednesday evenings and to get her hair done every Saturday morning. 

Dan helps with little odd jobs around the apartment, Alan runs to the grocery store after Mom has gone through the sale pages Wednesday morning, and Nick takes the whole group out for dinner twice a month. In return, Mom’s apartment is where they all gather for dinner and fellowship every Sunday evening. When I imagine my mother’s life without these people, I see a woman living alone, no longer independent, forced into an assisted-living facility.

Before I left her at her apartment Saturday, I asked if she wanted me to move back in with her. She adamantly said, “no.” On Sunday, I realized she doesn’t need me to be anything other than her daughter. Her apartment is her home, and she was telling me that Breckenridge is mine.

In our divided nation, it’s easy to feel alienated from our neighbors, to feel our voices don’t matter, that we have little impact in the world. Yet when I look at my mother, I see many individuals who make her life of independence possible in a way that no government or commercial organization ever could. And when I contemplate what it means to walk my faith, it is by putting my faith into action.

When we look at the example of the life of Jesus Christ, we see the son of God came not to rule, but used his power to heal those who had suffered the longest, those who were considered untouchable or unredeemable by society. He spoke on behalf of the poor, the marginalized and the people who have no voice.

I believe we are called to follow the example of Jesus and do the same with our lives. When we volunteer, we go from feeling helpless, to feeling empowered. We become a creative force for change in our community. We trade isolation for companionship.

My friend Joyce Mueller has been going every Thursday for the past five years to St. Anthony Summit Medical Center, where she is a volunteer chaplain. Imagine how many lives she has touched over those 260 visits.

There are volunteer organizations for every interest, for every level of time commitment. For example, I foster dogs for Big Dogs Huge Paws. Right now, they desperately need new foster families. If you have room to foster one in your home, you will be a bridge for that dog from a possible death sentence to finding its loving forever home.

On Wednesday, I asked the ladies of the Prayer Shawl Knitting Group to name some of the organizations in Summit County that need our help. Here are the volunteer organizations that came up:

  • Community dinners that provide free meals at St. John’s and Father Dyer’s churches each week need volunteers to cook and serve  
  • Domus Pacis needs empty homes or apartments to provide a week of respite for families who are dealing with cancer
  • Building Hope, the mental health initiative in Summit County, needs volunteers
  • Summit County Animal Shelter needs people who like to walk dogs or play with cats that are waiting to be adopted
  • Rotary Club of Summit County is in need of Reading Buddies for local schools to help young readers gain confidence and discover the joy of reading
  • High Country Conservation Center needs volunteers to man recycling booths at our many festivals throughout the year
  • Friends of the Dillon Ranger District volunteers do invaluable work to build and maintain our hiking trails

When you become one of the people who welcomes those who have moved here from far away, you make our community stronger. It was volunteer ushers at the Riverwalk Center concerts, the women of Breckenridge Music Festival’s Applause, the Prayer Shawl Knitters at Next Page Books, the community dinner group at St. John’s Episcopal Church and the Catholic study group at St. Mary’s who welcomed me and let me know I was home.

Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Walking our Faith” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson is the author of 10 novels and nonfiction books on faith. She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at suzanne@suzanneelizabeths.com.


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