Contributing Writer
Pastor Shawn Hannon
Hope Lutheran Church Arcade, NY

The first time I saw an actual milestone was several years ago in Madagascar, and until someone explained to me why the roads were marked with tombstones, I actually had no idea what I was looking at. I didn’t have a cell phone with a camera then, but I was so surprised I drew a picture of it in a journal I was keeping at the time. (Actual drawing circa 2004).

Generally speaking milestones are great for longer journeys, but on the bumpy roads of a developing nation like Madagascar they are a necessity. One has to be able to mark the distance covered. One has to be able to look ahead.

We’re entering a time of year that tends to be full of milestones. From preschoolers to college students, graduations abound. At Hope our 9th graders recently celebrated their confirmation and affirmed their baptism. Folks are hanging up their hats and journeying into retirement. I know this isn’t the only time of year when milestones occur, but it is a time of year when we are all just a little more mindful of them.

And my hope for all of us this milestone season, is unlike a 20 year-old wondering why a highway would need tombstones, we might all be able to pause and truly reflect upon what each milestone means. Each milestone represents distance traveled. They tell the story of the people and places and events behind that have crafted us into who we are and helped form us into who God is calling us to be. They point ahead to the great and wonderful things waiting for us at our destinations. And above all they remind us that life is a journey. A milestone never marks the end of the voyage, it simply serves as a good place to stop and take stock in the road traveled while looking joyfully to what lies ahead.

Maybe you’re graduating from high school and headed for college. Maybe your children are graduating and headed away from home. Perhaps you’ve recently welcomed a child into the world. Perhaps you’ve recently become a grandparent. Maybe you are starting your life with a new spouse, starting a new job, or discovering the joys of home ownership. Whatever your milestone, I hope and pray you will take the time to celebrate it. Dwell in the moment. Give thanks for the road you’ve traveled. Think back on the potholes, the smooth sailing, and the companions you’ve had along the way. Give thanks. Each has helped form you into who you are today. And when it’s time, move ahead recognizing that this milestone isn’t the end of God’s vision and purpose for you. It’s just a checkpoint marking a pretty amazing step in a much longer journey.

For more inspiration and insights from Pastor Scott and Pastor Shawn’s past columns, please visit and click on the Faith Matters page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.