Tiny candles in the darkness


Nancy McCormick - Contributing columnist



Second Corinthians 4: 16-18: “We are not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace … There’s far more here than meets the eye … the things we can’t see now will last forever.”

I recently had a very good and dear friend pass away; her name was Penny.

Penny was a recovering alcoholic who loved life and earnestly sought to step into her divine place, as best she could.

One of her favorite jobs was that of midwife. She loved accompanying women as they began their journey of welcoming another human into their sacred realm of being.

Part of the recovery process Penny took was taking time to listen to the heart beat of God in the earth as she became a midwife to her land.

She and her son Nathan began building a small but sustainable cottage on the side of a mountain in the Cherokees. She made sure all the materials were green; she did not borrow money and built only when finances allowed.

She slept out under the stars. She relied on spring water to nourish her – she grew in strength as she split her own firewood and grew her own food in her small garden plots.

Penny loved her home and she and Creator were becoming very good friends.

I loved making visits and seeing the progress she was making as we sat by the stream that flowed through her property.

While building this garden Penny was also taking care of her aged mother who lived about 14 miles up the mountain as the crow flies. When her mother passed, Penny was able to commit more hours to her home; but the cold winds were fast approaching.

One night I received a call from Penny. Her son was unable to assist her and she had no insulation or interior walls. She stated she was wearing four layers of clothing in an attempt to stay warm. The heat from the wood stove was going straight out of the ceiling.

“Nancy I am afraid I am going to freeze to death, I can’t get warm.”

Penny never asked for help – but there it was. The rest is a love story; we met a small group of Wilmington College students in those mountains and started the process of insulating and putting up interior walls. Then a group of wounded warriors came in and completed the job.

One night I received a phone call: “Nancy, all is well and the gift of love given by so many will last in my heart forever, and I am warm.”

Quaker Thomas Kelly says it well: “We have this treasure of the Seed in earthen vessels-very earthen vessels. You and I know how imperfect we are … And yet those little demonstrations of love and goodwill … are being carried on by just such earthen vessels. These tasks shine like tiny candles in the darkness …” — Thomas Kelly

Thank you Penny. Nancy McCormick

Nancy McCormick and husband Mike are pastors of Chester and Springfield Friends, and Nancy is Wilmington College’s campus minister.

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Nancy McCormick

Contributing columnist