This morning in our chapel time we read Psalm 121. It is the Psalm that was read as my Mom’s family prepared to leave the land they called home and head to America. I heard it with new ears this morning. I envisioned the scenes where this Psalm was read as a Psalm of farewell and blessing. My Mom shared there were always some tears shed whenever this was read. It was read often as many people were leaving their community to seek new opportunity in a new land.
As I read more of Beppe’s story as we prepared for today, I was aware of how this Psalm impacted all that was unfolding.
1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber; 4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. 5 The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand; 6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. 7 The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; 8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
Today was different than yesterday as my Mom grew up in the country. It was not a walking tour but more of a drive through different spots in Friesland. We visited the church where my Pake and Beppe had their children baptized, the land where their home once stood, but today has
been lost to fire, and the church where some of their family is buried in the cemetery.
Their home was one where the barn was attached and two of my uncles slept above the cows in a loft type of space. It was a different time in a different land, but my Mom shared stories of her friend next door and how they would braid the weeds from the river. The land is beautiful and feels life giving. I can’t imagine all a fourth grade girls heart held as her family left all they knew and sailed to start a new life in New Jersey. In all of the goodness that came from my Pake’s brave decision, today I could envision that young girl my Mom was and the beauty of what Friesland holds in her memory.
My Mom is a beautiful and vibrant woman. As I reflect on her journey I am thankful for her tenacious spirit and gentle heart. I know for all of us here she represents a wife, mom, sister and Beppe who lives her life fully, embraces her story and longs to bring goodness to others, sharing openly and honestly about what she has learned on life’s beautiful path. My Mom is many things, but I will always include Frisian as one of the many things she is. After all being Friesian is just part of her being.
I am keenly aware of the deep faith that was needed in these days. It feels unreal sometimes to think of this as a story of my own parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles. And so as we travel together through this week I am grateful for the words of Psalm 121 that promise the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.