|Trinity Lutheran Seminary|
Shortly after arriving in Richmond IN, I was invited to the Bigalk residence to meet the family and share a meal. It was verbally stated and non-verbally conveyed that I was not only welcomed, but expected to be a part of their home and family. It was not a restrictive demand. Instead it was a gracious invitation. During my first week settling into the eastern Indiana city, Karen arranged a date with their recent house guest. Brenda, beginning an internship at a Holistic Health Retreat Center near Earlham College, needed a room for the weekend. Brenda's supervisor knew the Bigalk family well. Open doors and open arms were a Bigalk hallmark. One date led me on an unknown path. Karen's desire to have Brenda enjoy a night out of the house developed into a marriage relationship which continues today.
Vern's ability and desire to listen was well known in the area. He provided pastoral care to anyone, at
Over the decades our relationship deepened, as well. Sharing brokenness and grace, strength and turmoil, good laughter and copious tears, and an overall grace-filled outlook on life became foundational. Vern and Karen marvelously handled the request of Brenda and I to provide a renewal of vows marking our 10th Anniversary of marriage. Seeing that they started our relationship we wanted their boost to continue the complex, challenging, and satisfying relationship of marriage.
One thing I did not understand initially was Vern's decision to no longer be an active pastor. His gifts and skills in pastoral care and preaching were shared on a part-time or as needed basis even though he was "officially"
I had a small part in the Prayer Service following his visitation. It was enough. The connection with his children and their families, the renewal of relationships, no matter how brief was deeply important.
|Vern and Karen|