JuliaBy Clark Haken - February 2010
Stepping into Julia’s house was like stepping back in time. The essence of the house lingers in my memory—aromas of potting soil and tea-bags, the heady scent of aged books and old wood combined with hints of ancient sachets.
Her friends knew to ring the door-bell and walk in rather than wait for Julia to come to the door. I always used the side door which led into a large living room. Heads of antelope, bear, caribou, deer, elk and moose—trophies of long-ago hunting trips—hung on the four walls. The huge stone fireplace seemed to beg for a roaring fire. Many years ago the hunter and his wife used to entertain in that room.
My favorite room was the kitchen. Once, sometimes twice a week, Julia and I would have a cup of tea in her little kitchen. A large window allowed us to look onto a big backyard. Julia fed the birds, and as a rule her feathered friends were at the feeders. We would enjoy our tea, the birds and each other’s company. Never have I met a more gracious listener. Julia exuded acceptance, compassion, and understanding. Her kitchen was a safe haven where any topic could be discussed, songs could be sung; laughter and tears were allowed at Julia’s table. At times we simply looked out the window; words weren’t necessary.
Simply knowing Julia was a gift. Without purposing to do so, she taught me many things during the twenty years we enjoyed each other’s company; in her kitchen, Julia taught me to listen. Last November 15th, I listened as Julia’s breathing became labored and then shallow. That evening she walked through the gates of heaven, at the age of 100.
Though she’s no longer here, I strive to be the humble and gracious listener Julia was. The ATLAS staff considers it a privilege listening to those with burdens of all shapes and sizes. While our offices aren’t exactly like Julia’s kitchen, they continue to provide a safe and confidential haven for hundreds of individuals and couples to share fears, concerns and lighten the load they are carrying. Julia would approve.
I miss Julia. I miss her smile, her voice, her kitchen and cups of tea. Most of all I miss her unconditional friendship. Thanks, Julia, for teaching me to listen and being the hands and feet of Jesus every time I walked through your door.
I miss you. . .especially on Sunday afternoon’s around 3:30—tea-time.
ATLAS Board Members
- John Van Diepen - President
- Deb Kosters - Secretary
- Gary Hielkema
- Steve Swensen
- Brad Jensen
- Peg Van Kley
- Kathleen Osterman
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