If It Won't Open Its Not Your Door
By John Darst
They say that when God closes a door, He opens a window. It’s true. It’s so true – and yet, it’s not simple. Sometimes the window is tiny. Sometimes it’s on the second floor. Sometimes you can’t find it at all without help. And who wants to crawl through a window anyway? You have to swallow your pride, trust in God, and sometimes get creative. If you are very blessed, there will be a friend or two to give you a leg up on this side and to help you on the other side.
In 2011, I lost my job of 21 years. My wife was not working at the time. I still had 2 kids in college. What was I going to do? Despite the fact that the loss of the job itself held an undercurrent of relief, and despite the fact that I trusted that the Lord had a plan, I was afraid and I felt profoundly unbalanced. I had no way of providing insurance for my family, no stability, and not enough retirement money to provide a real safety net - much less a nest egg for starting something on my own. And yet, the idea of starting my own funeral home was already on my heart. It had been there for years. The very moment I saw the door closing on my safe known career, I could see the light beckoning from that window. But…how???
So here I am, 5 years later. Sitting here at Darst Funeral Home, watching fall leaves dance lazily across the garden as I think. Just yesterday, a woman came up to me after a service and thanked me and told me that she could feel God’s peace in this garden. I am so overwhelmed and humbled to see His plan unfolding. This place; this dream; this garden where people can say goodbye under the sky, it probably would never ever have happened if that first door hadn’t closed in my face and stopped me in my tracks.
So today I want to take the time to stop and be truly thankful. Thankful for that open window, of course, but thankful for the closed door too. And profoundly, deeply thankful to each and every one of you who have been a part of this journey. To my family, especially my wife Anne and our children, Courtney, Erin, Anna and Jacob for believing in me enough to allow me to believe in myself. To Sharla Hein, who sat with me and sketched imaginary flower beds in the dirt and in memory of her husband, John, breathed life into this place in so many ways. My brother Jim, Robin Martinez Sharla Hein and Charlie Snider who believed in me when the bank would not. To my employees, especially Dean Winslow my first Director, who followed me without hesitation and has weathered every storm with me; and Lisa Cano, my lead funeral director, who gives unselfishly to this calling. To each of you from our community who brought plants, or fountains, or benches, or simply enjoyed the serenity, that added tender meaning to our garden. To the more than 1,700 families who have humbled and honored us by trusting us to care for your loved ones at your time of need. To Joe McGlynn and his wife, Teresa whose ministry compliments the Darst Funeral Home vision so perfectly. To Christine, Pat, Thomas, Dianne, Daniel, all the area Ministers, and to the 'far too many angels to name' who have blessed this path.
Thank you to ALL of you. I could never have reached the sill if I had not been standing on your shoulders.
Part 1: Earliest Memories
Part 2: Holidays on a cemetery
Part 3: This Little Light of Mine
Part 4: Genealogy
Part 5: The Man Behind The Magic
Part 6: No Cancer But a Dose of Perpective
Part 7: A Year Full of Yes
Part 8: Last Moments and First Steps
Part 9: Facing Fathers Day Without Your Father
Part 10: When Children Grieve
Part 11: From Velvet to Violets: Shedding New Light on Saying Goodbye
Part 12: If it Won't Open, It's Not Your Door
Part 13: Love, After All
Part 14: New Beginnings
Part 15: Not Goodbye, Just Goodnight