The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


A benediction for Emlyn

I met Emlyn at Maundy Thursday services four years ago. She had Akira tucked under her arm. I was new to the congregation and delighted to find a fellow manga (Japanese comics) fan at church, so I struck up a conversation with her.

We started teaching English as a Second Language classes together on Wednesday nights shortly thereafter. ESL class is a great place to start a friendship because the silliness required to teach effectively means pretenses are kept to a minimum.

Highlights of our friendship have been the consumption of much coffee, weekly check-ins on car rides home from ESL and a recent trip to BookZeller, a delightful independent used bookstore located in the basement of a chain retailer. Our trip resulted in a little bit of literary roulette: try to find a book you think the other person should read but that is part of the current used bookstore selection.

Emlyn picked Voltaire’s Candide for me; I chose Connie Willis’ To Say Nothing of the Dog for her. (We each found an armload of books for ourselves.)

Last Wednesday, we made plans for one last trip to the BookZeller before she starts her freshman year at an ELCA college this September. I’m looking forward to reading what she chooses for me. And while I know she will have quite a bit of required reading for her courses, I’m hoping to find a used copy of Yann Martel’s Life of Pi for her, just for fun.

As Emlyn prepares to leave, I’ve been thinking of my departure for college 10 years ago. My college career represented the period of greatest spiritual maturation in my life so far, through friends and professors who sustained and challenged my beliefs­­—inside the classroom and out. I hope for similar challenges and comforts for Emlyn.

It’s my prayer that she be blessed with:

• The pursuit of book-knowledge, self-knowledge and God-knowledge.

• The ability to stand firm in her faith and embrace the goodness of creation in all its forms.

• Friends who will encourage her when she doubts, as well as those who will be inspired by the light of Christ in her.

• Places where she can share her God-given gifts.

• Assurance that her congregation surrounds her and supports her while she’s away.

• Good books and friends to share them with. (She has one already.)


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