Monday, June 28, 2010

Saying Good-bye

I have been spending a lot of time in the past several weeks saying "good-bye" to the people of the parish I serve. My last Sunday with them will be this weekend, July 4. After more than six years, I'm discovering that how I take leave may be as important as any of the work I've done with them.

The congregation has known about my resignation for about two months. At first, I thought this was going to feel like a long, drawn-out leave-taking. Instead, the weeks have passed quickly enough, and I've appreciated being able to take my time packing my office, handing off work, and visiting with folks to bring closure to our time together.

We've been intentional about this transition. Entering into this period mindfully, open to receiving whatever is given, has been a wonderful gift. I've heard stories about how people's lives have been changed here, and discovered seeds I didn't even know I had planted taking root and growing. We've acknowledged failings and experienced forgiveness. Noticing the slow, patient, often hidden work of God - in me as well as in the congregation - has been one of the joys of this time of shared memory and reflection.

It also has been both gratifying and humbling to see how well ministry moves forward without me. That is not to say that my part here has been insignificant, but simply to recognize that I have been part of a larger movement of the Spirit in this place that preceded me and will go on quite well without me. I'm grateful to be able to leave with strong leadership in place and an atmosphere of trust in God and in the future. That is a credit to the transparency that has marked our way of being together.

We devote time to the things that matter to us the most. I hope that the time we've taken to say "good-bye" is received as a token of love, an expression of gratitude, and a sign of health and hope. Letting go is not always easy, but our vulnerability in this time of transition is an opening to love. The invitation to be held in that love is the final gift we have been able to offer one another: the greatest of all gifts, as St. Paul tells us, and the most enduring. Thank you.

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