This post is part of a post on the Balcony Persons who have shaped our lives.
In Honor of Maureen by Alison Urbank
Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it (Hebrews 13:2).
A very striking woman suddenly appeared one day at the door of my childhood home, fresh from Beverly Hills, dripping in sophistication and elegance. She was introduced as Maureen, an interior decorator. She was hired by my mother to do for our late ’50s 3-bedroom suburban Los Angeles tract home the things that she (my mother) imagined were important.
In some ways this woman from the north was a breath of fresh air. In others she was overbearing and opinionated, and therefore intimidating, but in the end she did many lovely and sometimes astonishing things for our internal environment. My only problem with the outcome was that my new bedroom furnishings did not seem very much like me. I made the best of the situation, learned to take care of the new things I had been given, and enjoyed the opportunity to start fresh. After all, I had reached the double-digit years of my youth by then and it was time to move on from childish things.
In the midst of Maureen’s comings and goings during the relatively brief period of time she was putting her touch on our household, she brought my sister and me each a gift. I don’t remember the occasion, or even if there was one, except that we were both called into the living room to sit and receive.
I still remember the moment I opened the tidy little box and saw a clear sphere with a small dot inside on the end of a gold chain. As I silently marveled at its unique simplicity, Maureen began to tell the story of the mustard seed in words of her own that I can no longer recall. I only remember the moment seemed full of light and love. I promptly put the necklace on and I did not take it off for a long, long time.
Maureen disappeared from my life as quickly as she came. Decades later, many years after I became a Christian at mid-life, I thought of Maureen’s gift one day and suddenly understood it for the loving witness that it was. I was astonished and full of wonder at the memory. The entire focus of the household relationship with his woman had been on worldly trappings; the true purpose of her intervention had been to plant a seed. Whether or not Maureen knew the full reach of her interior decorating skills is unknown. But God knew, and he equipped her and used her to help woo me to Him, for sure.
Thank you, Maureen, wherever you are.
Alison Urbank, PhD, is a psychotherapist who is a breath of fresh air in that giant un-walled mental institution known as Southern California.