Leaving: Abundance and loneliness

"Leaving" is a series of blog posts having to do with my process of transitioning out of my first call and into a new call; leaving St. Timothy Lutheran (Naperville, IL) and moving to First Lutheran (Decorah, IA).
There is an abundance to this (and any) time of transition, as you carry the old and the new together, and ponder the excitement and blessings of doing something new.

An abundance of love and care, from both my current call and my next call. An abundance of tasks to finish and an abundance of new tasks to begin. The thought of packing and moving brings me face-to-face with my abundance of stuff, which sometimes evokes gratitude and other times evokes guilt and frustration. This time of transition is full of grief and full of expectation. It is a time of holding on tightly to this place (because you never feel fully ready to leave), and a time of holding tightly to the next place (because you are excited to grasp your new congregation and new life and new place).

But amid all of this abundance (much of which is very, very good), there is a peculiar loneliness as well.

I have one foot in two churches right now: abundance. But this stance means that I am not firmly planted in either place: loneliness.

I am fully excited to start my new position and fully sad about leaving my current position: abundance. But balancing the right emotion at the right time (and the exhaustion of those emotional gymnastics): loneliness.

There are many people here whom I love and whom I will miss dearly: abundance. But the process of letting go and saying goodbye is a process of creating distance from all of those people: loneliness.

Shopping for a first house and imagining life as something other than a transient apartment-dweller: abundance. But setting the stage for a life in a town that you do not yet live in while also disengaging yourself from the apartment and town that you currently live in, and feeling homeless or at least between homes: loneliness.

Seeing the life and ministry and history of a new congregation and being blessed to step into the flow of existing life and ministry in a new place: abundance. But having to learn the names and faces of a congregation from the ground up, and looking ahead to living in a place where you don't yet have friends or patterns of life or connections: loneliness.

If week one of this transition was the week that I told the staff and council of my departure, and if week two was the first week that the congregation knew the news and stepped up to grieve and to show their support, then it is now Thursday of week three. And if weeks one and two were defined by kindness and support and the excitement of having news, week three has thus far been defined by loneliness. It is a time for me to start counting "lasts" and to really, truly let go of things around here, task by task, event by event. I am stripping away my St. Timothy life, bit-by-bit, in preparation for clothing myself with my First Lutheran life.

There is abundance here. But it is a lonely place to live.

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