Ministry

Way Leads on to Way

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both,
And be one traveler, long I stood…*

I’ve been standing in just such a spot for the past two months, knowing the time was right to go one way, yet wishing I could remain on the path I’ve been following for the past four years.

I’m reminded of the end of my sophomore year in college. That year I lived in a dorm with some of the people who would remain my friends, and I knew that even though the connections would remain, it would never be quite the same again. The big event of that year was a concert by Billy Joel at College of Knowledge Hall. Everybody went. And then we listened to Turnstiles over and over and over again.

And although our sophomore year didn’t quite have the thrills (or the drugs) of the life Billy sings about, at the end of the year we sat crying as we listened to "I’ve Loved These Days."


We light our lamps for atmosphere
And hang our hopes on chandeliers
We’re going wrong, we’re gaining weight
We’re sleeping long and far too late
And so it’s time to change our ways
But I’ve loved these days

And so it was for me tonight as I told the lovely people of Small Church that our time together is drawing to a close. Tears were shed and hugs exchanged, and many kind words spoken on both sides.

Leaving in ministry is different than it is in other jobs. You have to go away and not nose in, no matter how well-meaning your nosing might be. You have to let go. We have 40 days of letting go to do, our journey to leave-taking superimposed over Advent, Christmas and Epiphany.

I expect that next Christmas I’ll be wondering how they’re doing, whether they remembered to get the Advent candles ahead of time or had to send someone out at the last minute as we did a few years ago, whether they could find the Christmas banners that are always stored mysteriously yet obviously.

New_paths

Yet knowing how way leads onto way
I doubted if I should ever come back.*

That’s the hard part. But I trust that, way leading on to way, we will each find the path we’re called to travel.

(Thanks to Pure Luck for the photo from his 2005 AT hike.)

*Robert Frost, "The Road Not Taken"

38 thoughts on “Way Leads on to Way”

  1. It looks as though I just came as you posted this. Wow… I know there are some very sad folks at Small Church. I am sure both you and the members of the church have been blessed by each other.

  2. I’m just glad the RevGals don’t have to give you up, too. 🙂 Blessings on these days. May you sense the hand of God in all comings and goings.

  3. I was sleepy as I wrote this and I realize reading it this morning that it may not be clear I have a place to land. I’ve accepted an Interim position in Southwestern Vacationland. The family will stay put, and I will have a little commute (modest compared to what those of you in urban areas experience). More on the new job to come.

  4. I’m looking forward to hearing about your new position. It’s so hard to find a good interim pastor, and I know you will be one.
    I’m sure Small Church is taking your departure hard. Grace and peace to all of you.

  5. How exciting, but still a wrench to leave. I’m glad to hear they’ll be sad to lose you, and hope that you’ll have blessings on your new work as well.

  6. Congratulations on the new position! I know that emotions are a little bittersweet right now but I’m sure that everything will work out. And I know that the new congregation is very lucky to have you as the interim pastor.

  7. Ohhhh, I know that Small Church is going to miss you so much and you will miss them as well. Take good leave of them, assure them of the new thing God will unfold for them and for you.
    And leave them, as always, in God’s good care.
    Hugs and good wishes on your new adventure in ministry!

  8. These transitions are so hard, for all concerned. I remember how hard it was for my father to leave the church he’d led for … I want to say 10 years, but perhaps it was longer. We didn’t go back to visit for at least two-three years, even though that town and that church contained all of my parents’ closest friends (they saw their friends on “neutral turf”).
    My current church is slogging through a major transition … our pastor of over 20 years retired in ’05, and both associates retired this year. The interims are doing a wonderful job, but it’s hard.
    I wish you and the people of Small Church all the best in the days and months to come.

  9. My prayers will be with you during the time of transition. Prayers, as well, for a quick healing. I lived in New England for awhile so I’m guessing that you will have a beautiful 25 mile commute – watch out for the moose! Until then, I hope that the farewells at Small Church go well.

  10. Not knowing what “southwestern vacationland was” I was thinking in the BIGGER SW – as in the United States Southwest – but I couldn’t figure out family “staying put” – now I understand, I think, you will be staying where you are, but commuting locally, but southwest.. right? Waiting to hear rest of story soon.
    🙂

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