Today ends an era in our little church. Paula and Kathy have been working here, covering the parish administration and financial administration for almost all of my twelve years serving here. Among other things, we have started each day together at Morning Prayer in our church. The bulk of attendees is often our little staff. [Most days there are three or four there, though on a good day we can have ten or more.] The practice of morning prayer is shaped by the monastic hours (or the office) and consists of psalms, prayers and readings from Scripture. Praying like that each day has created a holy bond which is difficult to describe.
Paula and Kathy are the kind of people which one would "expect" to work at a church. They are as loving and kind, conscientious and committed as any I have ever with worked side by side. They were so pleasant and proficient. While most of my readers do not know them, I think it is possible to "know" them because everyone knows people like them. And everyone knows what a hole is left when people like this move on.
Ironically, this is also the last Sunday of our associate. Fr. Rene is moving back home and beginning his retirement as well. He served for three years and is much loved and respected. He was a friend long before he came to work here so his departure is a double blow. I am not sure it has settled in that he is really going to be gone. It makes me sad (and happy for him).
I have shipped off my daughter, now the bulk of my co-workers, and the icing on the cake, one of our best families is being transferred. Lots of loss. Lots of good byes. Lots of changes.
In Bible study Wednesday we reflected on Jesus' words in Mt//Lk about the futility of storing up treasure. Jesus reminds us, whatever it is we think we have as we hoard and collect is all going to pass away. Thieves steal, moths eat, or it is 'consumed' (brosis= eating in Greek). It is a truth which we are reluctant to face or embrace. Time has its way with all of us. We are in a constant state of losing and moving on. Certainly, all loss is not bad (I do not miss the forty pounds I am no longer lugging around) and some is necessary. All my soon to be former co-workers will have time to spend pursuing their roles as grandparents. It is a time of the harvest for them, reaping the benefits of life well lived. Not everyone on the planet has such a time to look forward to and enjoy! They are blessed indeed.
So we are grateful for what we had, excited about what new adventures will unfold in days ahead and try to remind ourselves of the one constant--God's love poured out in Jesus. We remind ourselves that with change comes opportunity; if nothing else the chance to practice trust and hope. The pages of our lives, people my age, are mostly written. Perhaps there are many chapters left, but whether few or many, I am past the half way point in living. Each letting go is a reminder of that. It is a reason to consider and ponder if the life I am living is one which I want to present to God as a gift in gratitude for all He has given. Time runs out, after all. We can not wait for ever to get focused and respond to His call.