The Light of Hope

By Rev. Catherine Lawrence  •  June 20, 2019

Many residents in our community seek to live fully each day by focusing their energy on the light of hope. Addressing the joys and challenges of aging while living toward hope takes courage and tenacity.

Walking the Walk, Talking the Talk

I have developed deep admiration for a resident who moved here about eight months ago. Rev. Paul Deppen, a retired UCC pastor and former Board president of United Church Homes is 97 years old. He is a courageous role model who demonstrates how the light of hope can illuminate joy that surrounds each day. Visiting with Paul is truly a gift of grace. We sat down last week, and I asked how he lives in the light of hope.

Paul immediately shared his foundational theology. “I choose to believe what Jesus said. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house, there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself. So that where I am, there you may be also." (John 14:1-3) Paul's life has been rooted in the promise Jesus offered to his disciples.

Thanks for the Memories

As I was speaking to Paul, much to my surprise, he stood up to retrieve a lovely book of stories, sermons, and thoughts. It had been carefully woven through historical family pictures. Entitled Led by the Light, it had been edited by his daughter with copies printed in celebration of his 90th birthday. This was Paul’s gift and legacy of love to his family. Inside the front page was Paul’s introduction that included this story:

It was night and the father needed a tool from the barn. His 10-year-old son was asked to get it for his father. The son pleaded: “Dad, it is dark, and I can’t see the barn. I am kinda uncomfortable in the dark.”

“OK, son," said the father. "I’ll tell you what to do. I’ll light the lantern, and then you will be able to see your way to the barn.”

With the lantern lit, the father and son proceeded to the back door. The boy took the lantern and once again pleaded with his dad. “I still can’t see the barn, and I am still afraid.”

Wisely, the father put his arm around his son.  “Son, in what direction is the barn?” The boy pointed, and the father continued. “Take this lantern in your hand.  Notice the circle of light that surrounds you. Walk out to the edge of the light, in the general direction of the barn, and see what happens.”

As the boy walked to the edge of the light, in the general direction of the barn, the LIGHT MOVED ON AHEAD OF HIM. Led by the light, he found the barn and returned with the needed tool! He had just enough light to make the trip safely and unafraid. 

 Aha! That’s the best we can do in life. We’d like to see the far distant scene — what’s ahead!  WE TAKE THE LANTERN OF FAITH. We walk to the edge in the direction of something greater than our human understanding. And BEHOLD! WE HAVE JUST ENOUGH LIGHT TO LIVE SAFELY AND UNAFRAID! Honestly!

The Light of Hope

The light of hope shines in many ways as it guides us through a lifetime of memories. I give thanks for the opportunity to learn about the power of hope from our residents and from Rev. Paul Deppen, our wise and hope-filled pastor. May others have the courage to hold fast to the light that invites to continue to courageously step into the future! With grace and peace!

About the Author

Rev. Catherine Lawrence

Rev. Cathy served as pastor and teacher at Zion UCC Fireside in Bellevue, Ohio for eight years. A registered nurse, she combines her passion for the care and nurture of the whole person, mind, body and spirit in her role as chaplain at Parkvue Community in Sandusky. She is a lifelong learner, the mother of two adult children and one beloved grandchild.

View all articles by Rev. Catherine Lawrence