By Becky Siewers
I was reading in the local paper recently about the demolition of a local business that has been in a small town for as long as I can remember. I know this business because I would ride my bike around this small town I grew up in and see it each time. It sat in the downtown area; and being a grain elevator, it was hard to miss with its tall structures.
I remember seeing the trucks lined up waiting for their turns to sell and the loud noises that came from the mill. My good friend throughout school also happened to be a member of the family who owned the mill, and we would stop there sometimes.
It became a place that was part of giving out directions, a landmark in the small town. A landmark is first defined as an object or feature of a town that is easily seen and recognized from a distance, especially one that enables someone to establish their location. Dewig’s Elevator was certainly this and will be missed. It always gave me comfort to see it — I guess because it reminded me that I was home.
I know time changes things and we must move on, which makes some things familiar to us just memories. I’m thinking we should probably be grateful for a place that helped raise a family, as well as a place for the farmers to come and sell their grain so more families could be helped. It was a place that reminded us of community and how important it is to help one another.
A second definition of a landmark is an event, discovery or change marking an important stage or turning point in something. God makes those things possible for us with weddings, births, anniversaries, the Sacraments and our church-community activities. All of these things leave us with memories and gratitude to God for allowing us to live our lives to the fullest.
We can see God in each landmark of our lives, and hear his voice and feel his presence. We must have faith in God and trust that he will get us through life, even if it comes with challenge and sadness. God will help us through it all. His promise to help us is a powerful sign of his never-failing love.
His help comes to us through his love, and it is our faith in him that opens us up to receive what he wants to give. Without that faith, our hearts can close to what God wants us to experience; and that won’t be a good feeling. We can find peace even if it means losing a landmark in our lives. It can also mean experiencing a new landmark that can bring us great joy and new memories.
As I grow older, many things have and will be changing in a small town. It does not take away the memories we have or the purpose of what a building can mean in our lives. It is God’s plan for us. I had a conversation with my 6- and 8-year-old grandsons recently, describing to them what had been in certain locations and what had been in buildings used for something else now. I like that role in my life right now, it makes me happy to know I can share that information and to see or hear their reactions. Someday they will be sharing with their grandchildren; the circle of life will continue because it is God’s will.
So no matter where life takes us, we will always have those places, those landmarks on our spiritual journeys that make us who we are. But the best landmark we can ever have is God. Always there for us, loving us, caring for us and showing us how beautiful life can be with each memory in our life. Let us treasure those places, those sights, those moments we are given. Let us look beyond what can make us sad and rejoice in what makes us stronger with God’s help.
Becky Siewers is retired from full-time ministry and serves as a consultant to the Office of Catechesis. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.