Spirituality for Today – Spring 2021 – Volume 25, Issue 3


Janice Alonso

Helen came into my life somewhere in the mid-nineties. I signed up for a Bible study class in my church where she was teaching about John, the disciple whom Jesus loved. I, too, had always loved John. To this day he is the disciple I can most identify with. It was a rigorous study. We met each Monday morning for about three hours. We had a workbook with daily assignments, questions to answer from designated scriptures, and bullet points to think about as we probed our inner thoughts as to how these statements related to us as individuals and our personal lives. Helen was a gifted teacher, an inspirational leader, and a dedicated disciple of Jesus Christ. She educated us as a teacher, ministered to us as a pastor, and related to us as a friend. While I have been a part of many Bible studies, it is Helen who stands out in my mind all these years later. At some point, my life changed course and I left Helen's tutelage. But this is not the end of my story.

Around twenty years later, I joined another Bible study class. This class is different in that the books we read and discuss are based on scripture related to current day topics. During the third book of our study, Covid-19 entered our lives. Our class could no longer meet in its usual room at the church, so we continued our weekly sessions via Zoom. Initially, much of our discussions centered around the uncertainty of the situation we were in. Many of us had an elderly parent in an assisted living facility. As sisters-in-Christ, we cried over the depression, delusions, and confusion that was wreaking havoc over this extremely vulnerable group. Since most of these homes were in lockdown, we couldn't visit our mothers and fathers, and other beloved, elderly relatives. We decided to write notes to each other's loved ones. It turned out that Helen's daughter was in my class, so in March 2020, I began writing Helen notes of love, encouragement, and hope. Once again, she is in my life, and I am receiving more than I am giving by having her in it by being able to give her these notes during this confusing time of her life. But this is not the end of my story.

A few months ago, God placed on my heart that in addition to my Bible study class, I should join a small, Discipleship Training group. This type of group meets for two years with one leader and four students. It is different in that you are making a commitment to first learn what it means and how to be a disciple of Christ, and second, upon completion of the study, you will then lead a DT group in the same way. As a writer, I speak to many people about my faith as a Christian, but most of these individuals are "faceless." In this small group, I am being equipped as to how to use my gifts intentionally in face-to-face situations. In our first DT meeting, we each took a turn to introduce ourselves since we did not know one another. After each of the four of us had finished, our leader Penny spoke. When she'd completed her personal introduction, she explained that she'd taken over the leadership role of this group for another woman who'd had led it for a long time – Helen. Yes, the same Helen. Helen had been Penny's leader and now Penny is mine. Helen's legacy and walk for Christ lives on. But this is not the end of my story.

Shortly after I'd begun my discipleship training group, I received a note from Helen. Her writing was shaky, but her words were as crisp and clear as they had been all those years ago. She thanked me for my notes with her own sweet expressions of love, encouragement, and hope. She said she remembered me. I don't know if she does or not. Helen had many, many students over the years. If she does remember me, I am honored. If she doesn't, I am still honored. First, Helen entered my life as a teacher and then second, as someone I could give comfort to. Next, she came in the form of one who had continually paved a road that I would eventually travel on through her again. Finally, she appeared to voice acknowledgement as one "worthy" of this pursuit for Christ. Giver, receiver, provider, commissioner… the many roles Helen has played in my life. But still, this is not the end of my story.

During the course of my life, thousands of people will cross my path. Some will stay with me for a long time, others perhaps only briefly. Some people play a specific role, others play multiple roles. But whatever their purpose in my life, or I in theirs, I like to think that each individual has his/her own special color. If I were to look at my life as a map of this Earthly journey, these colors would wind around, merge, cross one another, and stop and start at various junctures. I also like to think that when my Earthly life is over that all these different colors will blend into one unique hue, one that I can't comprehend here on earth where things are finite. This magnificent color will paint the new me. I like to think this never-before-seen color is what has made me, me – shaped by all those who have been my companions on this journey. And this is where my story will begin.