was pretty much all I could think of when asked this morning to write the letter for the team magazine. I'm not finding this business of leaving easy in any way - and having chuntered, agonised and procrastinated all day, it seems like a good idea to post the final product here to remind myself of some things I might need to remember.
4 weeks to go!
However did that happen? One moment my depature was far in the future - “not til after Easter” - but now Lent is shooting past at the gallop and I'm confronting a series of “lasts”. Already I've had my last Eucharist at St Lawrence, my last Assembly at Cashes Green School, my last regular Messy Church – and goodness, it hurts! Many of you have kindly asked if I'm looking forward to my new post – and the answer, right now, is that it's very hard indeed to see past the sadness of farewell, though I know that once I'm actually THERE it will all look quite different and more than a little exciting.
But I think it's OK to grieve, all the same. The past 6 years have included so much that is really wonderful, too many highlights to name. I've shared friendships and fun, holy moments in worship and at bedsides, important anniversaries (100th birthdays for parishioners, 175th birthday for a church) and episcopal (and archi-episcopal) visits. I've experienced the delight of helping to train curates, and watching them grow into their vocations as ministers of word and sacrament. I've welcomed children to receive Communion for the first time and found myself invited into people's lives at times of immense joy and real tragedy. It has been, and remains, a tremendous blessing and I have learned so much from all of you – so saying “Goodbye” is bound to be painful.
I'd imagined that with 4 months to plan, I would be able to tie up loose ends, visit everyone I wanted to and hand on everything in tip-top condition – but of course I had reckoned without the way that real life continues relentlessly, - and there always quite enough to fill the days, without even thinking of preparations for departure. Perhaps one reason that Jesus told us from the cross “It is finished” was because he alone was able to achieve all that he set out to. Certainly my hopeful plans unravel even as I look at them and though I'll do my best, I know I won't be able to “end off tidily”, as Sr Theresa always encouraged us in junior school sewing class.
Perhaps it's just as well, then, that I'm actually leaving in the Easter season, with its eternal promise of hope restored beyond even the messiest, saddest partings. While for me Lent seems to be passing all too quickly, I know that for many the resurrection hope seems a long time coming. Our world currently seems colder, sadder, more cynical than at any point in my lifetime – and it breaks my heart that in some ways the church seems to be part of the problem, rather than part of the solution. BUT we have a gospel to proclaim – genuine good news of eternal significance which our communities will only come to recognise if they see it reflected in our lives. The God of Easter shows us that there is nothing so broken or painful that it can't be transformed – but he calls us to be part of the process of transformation as the Body of Christ here today.
So – look after one another, knowing that God will look after you – and remember that wherever we travel, He goes with us.
With my love, thanks and many blessings