My partner has a hard time saying goodbye. I’ve often had to drag her out of parties or she would presumably never leave. She thrives on interaction and engagement, and I always say the only thing she’s afraid of is missing out on the party. She’s a great balance for me, because I don’t have a hard time saying goodbye.
It’s not that I don’t get sad or that I don’t cherish the memories and experiences I’ve had here at UUCF, or at any of the other congregations I’ve served, or in the hospitals where I’ve worked, or in seminary, or in the schools I taught at, or in college, or high school, or any of that. On the contrary, I don’t look forward to leaving and moving on and having to start over at a new place. That kind of itinerant lifestyle sucks, but I’ve had plenty of experience at it by now. No, it’s not fun to say goodbye all the time, especially when I feel like I was just really getting started here.
But as my mother has long advised: “Them’s the breaks, kid.”
My next ministry adventure will be as mental health chaplain at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in DC, where I will serve for a year. After that … who knows? KP and I are lucky and blessed and privileged enough to be able to make these kinds of decisions. Not everyone is in that same boat. For as long as I can, I’ll exercise that privilege to try and make the world within the 3 feet around me a better place through acts of spirit, love and justice. I hope you’ll join me in that spiritual exercise, even as we part ways and communication for at the least the Unitarian Universalist Association-mandated 12 months. After that, I’ll be back in touch!
So here we are, and I have to say goodbye. I’m pretty good at this by now, so please don’t take it personally. And just so you know, it has been a joyous and affirming experience to be among you this past year. I will forever be proud to be associated with this congregation. I’m proud of the steps we have taken to grow in spiritual maturity, activism and courage through the ups and downs of one of the most tumultuous years in recent American memory. I know that it seems like not enough progress has been made within our walls for some people, and it seems like too much progress for others. That’s the nature of living in messy, loving, interconnected community. Them’s the breaks.
Let us remember that the covenantal nature of our faith demands spiritual bravery. The writer Paul Tillich talks about religion giving you the courage to exist as a person of faith in the face of all sorts of existential anxieties from the political, social and economic worlds that can threaten to break you down and pull you apart. Our faith gives us the resources to allow our souls to venture out of our comfort zones and encounter the new, the unknown, the uncomfortable, and to return to us stronger and glowing more fiercely with love. That’s the promise of Unitarian Universalism, a faith I am proud to claim and act on, even when it’s messy and complicated and people disagree. In a free, liberal faith with the power to change lives and the world, them’s the breaks.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart and soul, for letting me walk alongside you in faith and love.