Take what you need, and give what you can

This afternoon I passed by a flyer on my way to lab. Nothing surprising about that–I pass flyers regularly during my everyday travels through dorms, across hallways, and between buildings. Something about this one caught my attention, though. It had only one sentence printed on it: “Take what you need, and give what you can.” At the bottom of the poster were tags, like the kind you would find on a lost animal poster or advertisement that contain a name and telephone number.

These tags were not pieces of contact information, though. Each one contained a single word. At least, I think each one did, because by the time I saw the flyer only four remained attached. The words on each tag were as follows: “Courage,”  “Compassion,” “Peace,” and “Friendship.”

I went on my way, thinking about the tags I had just seen. To someone who had stopped by and looked at these, they could represent any number of things: a wish for inner strength to do something difficult, a need for compassion during a time of pain, a symbol for peace during the chaos of everyday life, or a reminder of the friendship that has nurtured who we are.

As I paused and looked at the tags, I thought of what I needed to take this week, and what I was able to give. Thinking about it now, I realized I needed a reminder of where I’ve seen these qualities: courage, peace, friendship, and compassion. To these I should add three more: wisdom, balance, and hope. I’d like to take a moment to remember someone among my colleagues at Marsh who has expressed each of these qualities. I’d also like to give my thanks to each of these people. These words are not a lot, but I hope you can accept them in the meantime until I’m able to say something more meaningful. Thank you all for being a part of my family.


I’ve had several conversations with Nick since he first started working at the chapel. Each one is rich with puns and thoughts that jump around yet show a deep self-awareness that often humbles me. Above all, though, these conversations are rich with his questions–questions that few are willing to voice to themselves, let alone to others. There is a deep sense of courage that comes with being able to ask these questions about emotions, purpose, thinking about the past and putting together kaleidoscopic pieces to look toward the future. Nick is incredibly brave for being able to ask questions that so often can take on a life of their own, and to face them once they’re voiced.


Tom has only been at the chapel for a few months now, yet his gentle presence at the chapel has quickly grown and become palpable every time he enters the room. The thing I might remember most about him is his laughter–it fills and brightens the space he occupies, a quality that I don’t often see in people. His laughter and warm, gentle presence at the chapel give me hope. Hope that, as the expression goes, he will either find his way or make it, both inside the chapel and beyond it. My one regret is that I may not be able to see him grow and come into his own next year. I have hope, though, that he will find soil to plant his roots and make a home, wherever he may find it.


I will remember Denise most for her thoughtful reflections and presence at our Monday evening meetings. I have watched her connect with the other Marsh Associates at these meetings–whether it’s by chatting with Matt about sports, talking to Devin about Core, cracking a joke with Nick, talking to Tom about M.O.V.E., or sharing a subtle but well-appreciated glance with Kasey when the energy at meetings gets just a little out of hand. I’ve only had a few conversations with her one-on-one, but I can see that she brings balance to the group, and she seems to have found balance and grounded herself through her faith. This is a skill that I have not quite found with what I personally believe in, and it is one that I deeply admire in her.


Devin is someone whose experience and perspective has significantly shaped the way I think. I remember talking to him once about one of his blog posts, and I remember seeing how deep his ties are with the communities he is a part of and with those he cares about. I have watched him grow as a leader through his work, and more recently I have witnessed how he has become a mentor to the children at Marsh chapel. I believe that his experience and guidance has significantly touched and shaped those around him, whether it be in his children’s ministry, at orientation, or in the groups and communities he is a part of. May his wisdom continue to grow and guide him as he walks forward in life.


Out of the cohort, I’ve known Kasey the longest. Whether she is knitting a hat at our Monday meetings, writing a blog post about how God is an Elephant, or cooking Ecuadorian food at Global Dinner Club, she brings a sense of quiet thoughtfulness and peace with her. She is someone with whom I can share moments of calm, moments of celebration and music, and a quiet appreciation for moments of silence and reflection. Her work at the chapel continually creates space for contemplation, food, laughter, and fellowship. I will miss her wit and her thoughtful presence next year, but I know that she will bring her gifts to Seattle and create new spaces for all of these things.


Finally, to my friend Matt, one of the most hardworking people I know, who once told me that blood makes you related, but loyalty makes you family. Matt has shown me time and time again what it means to be family. When I first met him at the chapel, I didn’t know that I was meeting someone who would become a brother to me. Despite all the business that occupies each of our schedules, though, somehow we’ve managed to find time. I don’t regret a single moment of it. That time has taught me that love takes on many forms, whether it’s between friends or between brothers. Thank you for letting me embrace that by being both my brother and my friend.


I am reminded now of all the time I’ve spent with you. The time I’ve spent with all of you. I hope I’ve been able to give you at least a fraction of what you’ve given me–courage, hope, balance, wisdom, peace, friendship, and the compassion that I now carry with me. You have given me what I need, whether you realize it or not. May I give you the same in the time that I have left.

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