Reflections on an empty space, by Erin

2,726 days ago, I crossed Deception Pass bridge and arrived in Oak Harbor following a three-day drive from Kansas. My initial stop was at the church, where the first person I encountered had a warm smile and a friendly demeanor: Chet Hansen. I then connected with Susan Schopf and Pastor Vonna, got a quick tour of the building, and saw my office for the first time.

It was empty.

Well, empty is a relative term in this case. It had furniture, a computer, some pass-down files, books leftover from previous occupants, and other various office items. But it was empty in the sense that it had been freshly sorted, organized, and cleaned to make space for me.

Over time, I’ve filled the space with things that are characteristically me. Some of you may recall the colors on the walls when I first arrived were bright red and mustard yellow! That eventually changed to a calmer beige with a splash of blue. Art, décor, and even a few plants were added. Pictures of my family and then eventually of the young people I worked with joined the mix. Gradually the old furniture pieces were replaced by more modern ones. Files and calendars and notes and books were amassed to fill the space over the last seven years.

Now, this chapter of my journey has come to a close. I’ve accepted a new position and gave my notice at the church. A transition plan was made, and it was time to clear out the space. Thanks to help from Amanda, Amy, and Ginger, files have been sorted and purged, books have been boxed up, pictures and art have been packed away, and the space is once again empty.

But it’s not really empty, not for me. Even without my personal belongings in the room, it’s full of memories: the early days of Youth Group and Sunday School meeting in my office, squeezing five or more teens onto one couch; making coffee for youth and adults meeting in the building in the mini coffee bar setup by my office sink; one-on-one conversations with youth about the stresses of their lives; people stopping by in their comings and goings; meetings to plan various ministry activities and events; ordinary days of work; identifying who was in the building based on the sounds of them walking upstairs above me; tears shed and laughter shared over the ups and downs of life.

The space is empty. It will someday transition to someone else’s use and new memories will be formed there. For now, we remember what it has held, and I give thanks for the part it has played in my story.

“Memories are special moments that tell our story.” – Unknown 


Here was the first look at my office in September 2015!

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