Last Sunday I began my journey into what I am calling the first of the lasts. I've been serving Peace United Church of Christ as their summer pastor for the last three months and last Sunday was my last Sunday with them. It was really bitter sweet for me. On one hand I am beyond exhausted. I work full time (about 50 hours a week) as a chaplain for the VAMC - Saint Cloud and then I spent the summer adding an extra 20 hours a week being part time pastor. I think that is the bitter part. I've had no down time all summer. The sweet is that I loved pastoring this church. It was an amazing experience for me.
So during announcements the church gave me a gift and told me how much they have enjoyed having me there. I preached my final sermon and at Peace we always end by saying "Shalom" and right after I said it the church gave me a standing ovation. I stood in the pulpit and cried but it was my first...well the first of all the lasts that I will be doing over the next 10 days.
I preached my final sermon at the VA here today and did my final Sunday service on the dementia unit. I've been walking around and lots of people have been saying goodbye and giving me hugs. I've heard dozens of "You can't go." and "I'm not letting you leave." It's harder than I thought it would be. I've only been here for a year and for me that is barely enough time to really get settled but somehow I did it. I got nice and comfy here in Saint Cloud, MN.
I have several friends here now who ask me daily to stay and why would I, why would anyone, want to move to Texas? They are going through the same process that I am and doing some grieving. My parents have become almost clingy in the last few weeks as I've been getting ready to go.
I really did think that it would be easier than this. That leaving wouldn't be so hard or sad but it is. I am excited to be going to San Antonio and looking forward to all the challenges that being there will bring, the new places and people, new ideas and ways of processing, a different landscape to paint this next part of my spiritual/physical/emotional journey on and I'll admit it I'm also looking forward to another 4 units of CPE.
As I go through this time of the lasts...I am also going through a time of firsts. It's true that a door doesn't close unless there is a window open.