Saturday, June 25, 2011

Growing up

July 11 - the day of the move. In some ways, it seems as though July 11 will never arrive; in other ways, time does fly.

My house is under-contract so things are going along in a Godly fashion. A dream I had last night made me aware that I have an attachment to too many “things” and that some of them need to be let go. Some are belongings I moved from Colorado three years ago. some, not many, I acquired while here - that even counts the Wellsboro walking stick I purchased at the Laurel Festival that will accompany me on hikes when I get to my new home. This morning I sold my glass-top table to someone who will put it to good use. Two chairs are promised to John and Bill, the Christmas Tree that is too large will be snatched up by a young family at the yard sale.

Aware that some things may need to be replaced, I have put money received from selling into a separate account, to be closed when I leave and used for those things I decide I need. An example: The microwave went home with Ann and I test my life sans microwave for one month. If life is painful, I will purchase a smaller one, with fewer bells and whistles in NM. The only things safe from purging are preaching and theology books - these stay for many more years. O, and the cats!

Each time I decide not to take one of my possessions that I have held on to for these years, a bit of me grieves. Sensibilities say “let go” - sentiment says “it does not take much room” - right now sentiment is winning.

Divesting myself of these possessions means I begin a way of life that was at once very distant: older age. Statistic: a huge percentage of older Americans will work until they are 80. I suspect the life that accompanies the work takes on a different tone. My downsizing is poignant, but I am determined not to hold on to so much that they consider me a candidate for Hoarders. My new digs have 910 square feet, down from about 2,000 here. No sentimental ash trays for me! (I quit smoking some 30 years ago, but one ash tray somehow made it across the country several times.) No Christmas tree and lights that take up half of my living room, and the round table was just too impractical for the small dining “room” of this new apartment. Memories stay, they don’t take up much room.

Bring on this older age!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Stage of Grief

Sermon prep waits and I am aware that I preach at Soul Link only three more times; I already know what the final sermon will be. I want to be sure that the other two are of value for those who remain here preparing to take up the slack while preparing to find someone new to lead this congregation. People ask me whether I am concerned that this congregation will survive. And, I would be if I did not think that I have prepared them to be a congregation in service of God rather than a congregation that is “my” flock.

Some nice things many people tell me is that I have made a difference in this county during my three short (sometimes very, very long) years here. People call me and email me (some of them I don’t even know) to tell me they appreciate that I take a vocal stand for those on the margins or those who need help. I decided a while ago that I have a voice and I need to use it. So I do. I try to remember, even as I use this voice, that some who hear me are offended. I hope not to offend so much that the message of hope and justice and love is lost. I remember recently when one clergy in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) refused to stand next to me because I am so liberal. So, obviously, I do offend loudly! Boldly! Maybe so. But let’s not lose the message.

What is poignant for me is that when I leave here, I will not know how this congregation fares - I will not know if a pastor is found or if the congregation continues or what it looks like in five years and ten years. I cannot come back, I cannot be in contact with members of the congregation - that does not mean that I don’t care. Just that I honor my denomination’s desire that I leave and leave cleanly for the next person of the cloth to come and minister to a healthy congregation.

I am eager to move to New Mexico (St. Paul’s UCC in Rio Rancho) and start this next chapter of my clergy life. At the same time, I will miss Wellsboro and Mansfield and the many friends I have found here - people who accepted me even though I don’t have deep roots here. I do have little hair roots that have been cared for by many. I pray that this move provides me with deep roots and a congregation that is as accepting and loving as the one I am leaving. My spiritual director reminds me that it is in God’s hands. So, into your hands O God, my future. Into your loving hands O God, this Soul Link Faith Community.