A Branch Of Hope
Amy S. Pierce
Copyright 2004 by Amy S. Pierce
During the fall of 2001, my church held a series entitled "Kairos Moments." They are brief but meaningful experiences which touch our lives and help us to grow more spiritually. During the Christmas season, I experienced a "Kairos Moment." It was totally unexpected, but it was the hope that I was looking for in this time of my life.
Over the last few years, I had been struggling with job burnout, physical health problems and loneliness. It seemed like my life was going nowhere. My job was not exciting anymore and my physical health was suffering. It seemed as if others around me were happy and fulfilled in their lives. As a result of negative thinking and my deteriorating physical state, I became extremely depressed, lonely and tired. I began to feel sorry for myself and wondered where I fit into this world.
After much contemplation and quiet meditation, I decided to talk to my friend Lucy about my dilemma. She was a great counselor of wisdom and experience, offering advice and opening her ears to my plea for help.
We brainstormed and discussed ideas about making the necessary changes that would improve my self-esteem and outlook on life. By focusing on my strengths and positive attributes, we formulated a plan to improve my self esteem, mental attitude and outlook on life. First, we talked at great length about my career aspirations and how to obtain a position based upon my qualifications and interests.
I told Lucy that the one thing in life that I enjoy doing most is writing. I began revealing my creative side to her and talked about my writing experiences over the years. During the course of my life, I have kept a personal journal, written letters to friends and relatives, created short stories and composed poetry. I knew that I had always enjoyed writing, but was uncertain about pursuing my dream.
For nearly six years, I had been working as a Customer Service Representative in the corporate world. I had not been completely satisfied working in a fast-paced multi-task environment with little room for my creative energy to grow. More and more, I began to feel a strong spiritual nudge which was leading me toward a different career path. After much thought and prayer, I decided to take a leave of absence from my job to clear my mind, rest my weary soul, and re-evaluate how I was going to reach my future goals.
During my time away from the corporate atmosphere, I was able to think quietly and calmly about entering the next stage of my life. I started by writing a detailed business plan which consisted of working on numerous creative projects in such areas as poetry, short stories and inspirational essays. Then, I started submitting my work to several publishers for potential publication, as well as entry into national writing competitions.
After talking to my friend, Lucy about my desire to become a journalist, she referred me to a renowned writer and poet named Jinny from the Western New York area. I was ecstatic and nervous at the same time. When I finally called Jinny to schedule our first meeting, I began revising and perfecting my poems. Just the thought of sharing my work with an established writer was quite exciting and scary for me. Finally, I began to realize that God was listening to my prayers and was opening a door in my life.
From the moment I arrived at the doorstop of her quaint gingerbread-style home, I was instantly whisked away to another place. Her adorable Lhapsa Apso, Dolly greeted me with a friendly bark as I entered the house. As well as her bubbly friend, Kelly, a local theater actress.
Jinny's home was filled with a unique and creative Victorian charm: stained glass windows and Tiffany lamps, antique glassware, paintings and an eclectic selection of literary treasures housed on wooden bookshelves. I felt completely at home as if I had lived here my whole life. Jinny and I sat cozily at her antique dining room table while sipping gourmet coffee and discussing our writing backgrounds. She is a retired schoolteacher who conducts writing workshops and coaches novice writers. Jinny originated from North Carolina and moved to New York to obtain her teaching degree from Buffalo State College. She also briefly studied at Houghton College where I completed my education. After talking to Jinny for awhile, I discovered many similarities between us. We both attended the same college and also traveled to Paris, France.
During our meeting, we shared several meaningful poems with one another. We discussed the hidden thoughts and emotions behind each piece. After we read our poems, we discovered many intricate details about our lives. At the end of our first visit, we decided to meet again. So, Jinny gave me an assignment, and offered suggestions about more creative ways of writing poetry.
In preparation for our next meeting, I doggedly composed several more poems which I excitedly recited to Jinny. She also read some of her poems and talked about a childhood experience, which was poignant and heartfelt. For me, it was exhilarating and wonderful to share my poems with Jinny because, she was the first one to hear them aloud. At first, I was nervous and shy about reading them for fear of criticism and judgmental remarks. But, after I shared a couple of poems with Jinny, I became more comfortable and the words flowed more smoothly as I recited them. I was happy when Jinny asked me to read particular poems continuously. I also appreciated her glowing compliments and delighted in watching her facial expressions as I read them aloud. Sometimes, after reading a certain verse, she would form a smile or crack a chuckle. This was extremely encouraging because it was the first time in a long time that someone believed in my talent. Jinny was such a likable, gentle, serene and sensitive woman.
During our last meeting, she talked about sound and play of words when writing poetry. At the end of the visit, Jinny walked me to the door, and wished me a "Merry Christmas." She unexpectedly handed me a special gift which I shall always treasure. It was a tiny branch from her live Christmas tree, but it was no ordinary branch. For it was in the shape of a cross. I stared at it for a moment as I sniffed the powerful pine aroma. Suddenly, I could feel God's presence all around me. I could sense that I was in this place for a reason. With tears in my eyes, I thanked Jinny for her present and gave her a big bear hug upon leaving.
For months, I had been praying and searching for a sign from God to help me escape from my darkness. At times, I felt like there was no way out of this mess, and that God wasn't listening to my prayers. Yet when I met Jinny, I began to feel hopeful and alive again. Gradually, my life started to change for the better. I realized that God had brought this remarkable woman into my life to show me how to live again. And, that each person whom we meet plays a unique role in shaping who we will become down the road.
As I look ahead into the future, I am ready to be open to whatever God has in store for me. I have discovered many important things about myself. I have also learned several valuable life lessons as a result of my trials and struggles over the course of my life.
That first meeting with Jinny became a stepping stone for getting my life on track. I consider her an angel from God who gave me the faith and strength to carry on with my life’s journey. As a result of my experiences, I have become a stronger more spiritual woman. Jinny has played a significant part in my journey towards self- discovery and fulfillment. I thank God for bringing her into my life and allowing me to discover and cultivate my creative gifts.
As a result of my writing, I have been able to work through the painful periods during my life. I realize now that even through the darkest valleys of our lives, that God's light is always shining if we will only trust him to guide us.
My writing has become a true blessing from God and I know in my heart, that he has called me to enter this literary path. He has given me passion and purpose again. And for this, I am eternally grateful. It is my goal to help others who have lost their way in this world; to help inspire, nurture and explore their spiritual and God-given gifts. My wish is to offer branches of hope to every person who feels lonely and hopeless like the one that Jinny gave to me one special Christmas. For, I consider it to be the beginning of God's many precious treasures just waiting for me.
Amy S. Pierce is a freelance writer residing
in Brandon, Florida. She is a 1994 graduate of Houghton College, who
earned her B.S. in Business Administration. Amy has been involved as
a writer in the corporate environment for five years. She is a former
member of the Grand Island Business and Professional Women's Club,
and the International Women's Writing Guild. Amy is currently
involved in several creative writing projects in such areas
as poetry, short stories, and inspirational essays.
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