My oldest daughter returned from her first year of college last week. Along with her came overflowing red tubs and black garbage bags filled with freshman year “necessities”, a dusty salmon colored rug, and lots and lots of laundry. She arrived home late with tired eyes and skin cool from the night air. She fell into my arms – full body weight – the way we reunite after a separation. I am so grateful for this vestige of her toddler years. Afterwards, we sat at our kitchen counter and talked, all of us, happy that
our family was together under one roof again – for a while. Even our dog nudged her way into the conversation dancing and smiling.
Letting go is not easy for me. Of course, there were many years of preparation that got us to freshman orien
tation, but the months before, they were full. They were full of “lasts” like our last April vacation road trip, full of advice on adulting (debit cards 101) and lots and lots of shopping – most of this done to bind my anxiety. Our family prepared mindfully, each of us having time alone with her for adventures and talks. All of us had wonderful family vacations. Then before we knew it, we had a brave and warm good-bye. And we drove home without her.
We were each and all sad and somewhat lost. Besides missing her, which was no small thing, there was a strangeness and awkwardness in our home. Many of our typical ways of doing things had to be adjusted. The way we sat at the dinner table didn’t make sense. Chores had to be redistributed. Space had opened up in our tight knit little family and it didn’t feel comfortable. As we attempted to fill the space with new routines and activities, I felt a little guilty. We all did. Going to the beach, watching a new or much-loved movie, visiting with family and friends all were bittersweet. Yet as the time passed our sadness and awkwardne
We developed new routines and ways to relish time together. Pottery classes, road trips to art shows, and new tv series interwoven with new rituals for visits home shaped a new “Us”. The space that was created has become part of the fabric of who we are today. And now, joyfully, she is home for the summer sharing her experiences, hard learned lessons, and dreams. And again, awkwardly, we adjust, make room, weave a new fabric and a new “Us”.
It seems the space opened up and there was a yearning and a grieving for what was and then an adjusting and mo
ving towards in creation and again, a newness, an awkward trying and testing and an exhale…. comfort and…. now we begin again.
I can’t help but see the parallels between my family’s journey this year and our South Church Community’s journey. I am so grateful to South Church leadership for their painstaking preparations for and oversight of our minister’s sabbatical. And I know I share with many, sadness around Rev. Lauren’s and Rev. Chris’s absence from our “everyday” lives and important ritu
als. I especially miss Rev. Chris’s warm greeting on Sunday mornings and Rev. Lauren’s understated wisdom at the pulpit. I have also rejoiced in seeing the space that was opened in their absence be filled by staff and congregants willing to hold our Commun
ity steady and close in times of tremendous change. This communal effort has contributed to the creation of new connections and growth for and within our community. I am eager to share our changes and stories with our Ministers and to hear about their growth while on sabbatical. Soon, we’ll begin again… I can’t wait to see who we will be together!
Submitted by Tricia Hanley – Sabbatical Committee