The most unlikely of friends in many ways… Wild and crazy Maureen, helpmeet to a hard-headed but God-loving logger and student of the Word. Always ‘up for’ an adventure, or at least a new trail, a little further out, a little higher up…She had the truck. She sent out the weekly invites to join her on a prayer hike. She was always there with the backpack full of papers to keep us on task—scrawled prayer requests, newspaper clippings, lists of topics to cover in prayer…And she had the spray paint so we wouldn’t get ourselves lost, and the watch so we’d put in the full hour before a lunch break…that was Maureen.
She was away this past weekend with an old friend of hers. Her last words affectionately addressed to us ‘hometown girls’ were: “…hopefully be out on the trail next week. another person asked jesus into their life this week plus an amazing encounter must tell you all about. god bless, m.” That was Maureen, always looking for opportunities to ask people if they knew Jesus and to challenge ones who had wandered from the teaching they’d heard as children…she knew so many people in our town. She reached a whole sector I never rub shoulders with. She stepped on toes sometimes. She faced rejection. But she shed tears over the thought of people going to hell and she just couldn’t let a chance to mention Jesus pass. “God Bless” was on her lips… But Maureen was mortal.
An email message came from our pastor this morning (May 28). “This email is to let you know that Maureen Hein passed into the presence of the Lord about midnight on Sunday.” Just like that, a massive heart attack. And unbeknownst to me, as I was tucking my chin under the covers Maureen was waking in Jesus’ presence. She won’t be out on the trail this weekend. She’ll shed no more tears of angst for wandering souls in need of Jesus. The job is left for someone else. I’ll have to wait for the story of her ‘amazing encounter’. Maureen always had stories, of real people whose lives she’d brushed up against. She had a way of intersecting with people in unusual moments. And she always had a word of encouragement, often written on a scrap of paper so you’d not forget it. I have such a scrap tucked away somewhere….
Maureen was one-of-a-kind. We didn’t see eye-to-eye on everything. Our backgrounds were as different as they come. I got under her skin at times. We argued our doctrinal differences. Drove each other a little crazy in spots. But we always parted friends, determined to walk together, to pray together, to respect each other and to care for each other’s interests.
Maureen knew the kind of good-time I love. She liked to introduce her friends to the worlds she knew best. She invited me to tag along on errands for the logging crew and I got to see a logging operation first-hand and visit remote lakes I’d always wanted to see…She took me on a walking tour of the island neighborhood where she grew up…including a peek over the edge of a precipitous spot and a swim in the fabled Texada quarry….Maureen was like a seal. She loved water, be it ocean, lake or stream. If it wasn’t the dead of winter, it was ‘warm enough’ to dive in. We usually watched. On occasion I had to try it too… Brrr. And we took off in the motor boat a time or two, once with bikes aboard which we rode to the end of Savary Island, just to see how far it was, even though we had next to no water and no good sense how long it’d take. We lived to remember the adventure… Maureen introduced me to mushroom picking in earnest. And sent me home with a scary looking bit of fungi to try. She was right. It was delicious, whatever it was!
She was more daring than I, more tough, more zealous… But she always asked, always cared about my family. Always cheered me on. Always rallied us ‘hometown’ girls to get moving on Saturday morning, rain or shine. And now she’s among the witnesses that have gone before to mark the path of faith. Maureen wasn’t perfect. Wasn’t even always ‘nice’. She fumed and ranted, cried and agonized. She was real. But she never let her want of perfection keep her from offering to Jesus what she had and reaching out to take others with her on the trail… I’m going to miss her.
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.“ Heb.12:1,2