There is an old saying, “You never have a second chance to make a first impression.” Being new to the Sheridan community, I must admit the community has made a great first impression on me and my wife, Terri. Here are some of the things we have noticed in our initial months:
• We have sensed and observed a strong sense of community pride.
• The community pride bubbles over into statements such as, “Sheridan is a wonderful place and a great community. I am glad you are here.”
• Others have said, “I hope you will like it here,” and “Have you met such and such a person, you would love them.” These are positive and upbeat statements.
• Sheridan takes care of its citizens from the youngest to the oldest.
• Sheridan throws a great rodeo and fair.
• Sheridan is blessed with its surrounding of natural splendor.
• Sheridan has the desire to be the best.
• Sheridan is filled with wonderful, skilled, committed, fun and funny people inside and outside of our church.
Awe that last phrase. During the last 35 years of my life, I have been blessed to have lived in four spectacular locations: the San Juan Islands, Jackson Hole, Oregon’s Central Coast and now Sheridan. I have always enjoyed the beauty of God’s creation even as I celebrate and work for the Creator.
That being acknowledged, it has always been the people who have deepened and enriched my experience within a given community. In 35 years, there have been relatively few who have been negative influences. The majority of people have been positive influences. Within that majority there have been some very special folks who I call “life-giving friends.” What special gifts they have been. As a result, I find that I may have initially enjoyed a community because of its geography, but I fell in love with a community because of its people.
People. In each community, I have had the privilege of getting to know people through sports, government and community service. However, for me it is the people with whom we have shared our journey of faith where my soul has come alive. Listening to a person share when God became more than just a word is encouraging. Listening to how God has transformed a life is powerful. Hearing when and where people have felt God’s presence and been directed by God in life-changing ways is inspiring. Having friends with whom I can share those same events and stories provides a foundation I know will be with me forever.
What deepens your life within this wonderful community? Where do you find “life-giving” friendships? If you don’t have a place, why not find one? I know of several that might work for you.
Paul Hayden is the interim pastor at First Presbyterian Church.