I’ve been putting off writing a “good bye letter” for almost 2 months now. I’ve managed to write the letter telling you I’m leaving, and I preached a final sermon. We’ve hugged and talked and shared coffee. We had the most amazing party last Sunday and I felt so loved and so happy, but also really sad.
As we were driving to church, Gracie and I were talking about how much she was “weewee (really) going to miss everybody.” I told her I felt sad about leaving too and she said, “You mean you don’t want to leave our home either?”
“Well, no, I don’t want to leave,” I confessed, and then moved quickly to, “but I know that we’re going to make new friends and…”
“I KNOW!” She protested, “I KNOW that. But… I’m sad.”
That’s the thing about sorrow – it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It doesn’t mean we aren’t hopeful or excited. But sadness just hangs out beneath the surface. And every so often, we are engulfed. And that’s okay. Sometimes, we just need to cry and grieve our losses.
At the moment, I’m grieving the loss of this worshipping community – for myself, but particularly for my children. I love the way Gracie dances to the music at Gathering, the way she skips down the halls to find her friends, the joy on her face when I tell her we’re going to church. “My church?” she asks. “Our church,” I reply. I love the way Jake lunges toward Leslie, and Jenny, and Katie, and Amy, and Emma, and Ali, and everyone else who loves him so dearly.
I know they will make new friends and experience God’s love in a new community, but… I’m sad. We love all of you, and we’re leaving, and that breaks my heart.
This week, we’ve got more than 130 kids experiencing God’s love in our church. These halls are simply ringing with light and life! For preschool story time, we have the loveliest tent draped in twinkly lights and rainbow gossamer. I’ve been creating a similar space for a few years now, but Natalie Wise and Charlie and Jack Van Aman helped me this year and they took it to the next level. It is so wonderful and beautiful I can’t help but weep. It feels like just the sort of little tabernacle a 4 year old Jesus would create – full of wonder and mystery, snug but still airy, peaceful and exciting at the same time.
It’s a sanctuary – a place for tears and singing and stories and games, a place for solitude and community. It’s a place where you can be really, really sad and also incredibly happy at the same time. You don’t have to choose. I don’t have to choose.
Last Sunday, at the 8:30 service, Gracie turned to me while Scott was singing the prelude and said, “I love this song.” And later, as we sang Love Divine All Loves Excelling, we danced together and the look of joy and love on her face was ever so holy. My heart was singing and breaking at the same time.
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