5 October 2010

Letting go

Apart from my very brief update of last week, the blog has been silent for the last couple of weeks. I've just caught up with all my blog reading, which I'd also neglected, and it seems a lot has happened in the world since my silence started.

Though it's only been a couple of weeks, our world has changed in a massive way since my posts from before we left Lancashire. I think this will be the first of a brief series of posts about the changes we've experienced, and the transition we've gone through in recent days and weeks.

In our summer pack of information from Westcott was a letter from the Principal. In it, he told us that we needed to start letting go of the communities that were sending us so that we could fully embrace the community which was waiting to welcome us. At the time, I remember thinking that that was a nice idea, but that we had a house to pack, a busy time at work, and a one-year-old to care for. Letting go was something we just couldn't do at the start of the summer.

As the move date got closer, it was still difficult to let go. I was working until the Friday before our move, and you can't really let go when you're still doing the 9 to 5.

The first point at which it became real that we had to 'let go' was when we commenced our programme of farewell parties and services at Lancaster. The morning service on our final Sunday was hard. It was hard to acknowledge that we needed to let go of Lancaster and the Chaplaincy, even though we knew we had to do it. It was hard to say goodbye to friends, knowing that we had made the active decision to move away. It was really hard! And it was hard to let go of the comfort of knowing Lancaster and the University.

I found myself remembering the words of Hedley Cousin (a former Methodist Chaplain at the University) to a departing cohort of undergraduates. He said that they should treasure the experience of being part of the Chaplaincy because it was unique, and they were unlikely to find anything else quite like it. Having finally left after 13 years, I am sure that he was right. We'll treasure our memories of the Chaplaincy Community, from our days as idealistic undergrads to our more relaxed days with the Postgrad Group. We'll miss the friends we've made more than anything, though many have booked our spare room already, and those friendships will continue despite the distance.

So we've finally let go of Lancaster. Going back to visit will be nice, and we'll do it often, but it won't be the same. There will be no 'home' for us there, apart from the homes of our friends with whom we hope to stay. It still feels odd, and as DrLanky put it the other day, there's still a dull ache within us at the thought of what we've left behind. But underpinning all of these feelings is the belief and hope in God's purpose for our lives. In a very real sense, we did not choose the path that has led us here. Rather, we were chosen. In giving our lives to this vocation, we've accepted that there will be pain and discomfort along the way, and we need to learn to deal with it in a positive way.

Next time I'll fill you in with some of the details about our removal experience - I bet you can't wait.

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