Today is the day. Today I drop off the keys to the building, leave the welcome letter for the person taking over, get in my car, and leave behind this place that has been so much my center for over a decade.
And I won’t come back.
Professional guidelines dictate a two year period of separation, which allows the congregation to connect with a new Religious Educator. It will also allow me to find my new path. Intellectually, I know this is good practice. Even in my emotions, I know that I and the congregation need a break from each other. But it is still really hard.
Perhaps because I came out of the congregation, I am feeling this departure so strongly. I remember the absolute joy of finding a church, a right fit after many years searching. I had visited several congregations before finding one that had everything I needed: lovely people, a great minister, a beautiful sanctuary, and engagement in the world. Finding this safe place allowed me to plant the seeds of my heart and begin an amazing journey of personal growth.
SO not only am I grieving the loss of a job and relationships with some terrific people, but I am losing my first spiritual home. This is the part which is incomprehensible when taking the leap from congregant to staff person. This is only one of the sound reasons to not hire from within. Thankfully, I listened to the advice of colleagues early on and cultivated other places of spiritual sustenance over the years. I will not be left adrift, but I am still grieving this loss.