It’s been a few months now since I left my job as a religious educator. I really thought I’d be mourning, feeling the loss of all the work and time and dear people I was leaving behind. But I guess I pre-mourned enough, because, hey, I’m feeling pretty fine.
It wasn’t the way I hoped things would go, but I wound up leading the service on my last day. I had been emotional at every other milestone--giving notice to the board I couldn’t even read my letter because I was teary. At all the last milestones, including the workshop led by the long range planning folks, I choked up. When a little girl gave me the chalice she’d made in class and told me I could keep it til I came back after my long time away, I cried the whole way home! So I didn’t want to lead on my last day, I thought I’d have an awful time holding it together.
So, before the big day I reached out to colleagues, thank goodness for colleagues--I asked for stories of leaving and transition. I always learn best through stories, and it really did help to hear what people who went before me had done. Then, the Saturday before my last day I put out a call on the sacred facebook for help--and the response from my friends and loved ones made all the difference. On the final Sunday morning I floated--held by dear ones--it felt like I was carried through the service, through the little cake and juice reception. After the service I drove home with a smile.
I know some people thrive on the pressure. Some people manage the pressure much better than I did. Some people have no church during the summer or a practice in their area of having one Sunday a month away from the congregation to spend with family. But I was not cut out for this kind of intensity, nope. I loved the work, and I'm glad for the opportunity to have done it, but I'm thankful it's over.
It’s funny with a little perspective, now--. I always thought that eventually I’d be a minister. The first time I ever met a woman minister when I was a young girl, I thought “That’s what I am, I’m a minister” I recognized elements of myself in her. I started out in college thinking I’d be a philosophy major, I had no idea what a person did to prepare to be a minister but that seemed to make sense to me. Then I decided that you couldn’t be a minister at 24. So I thought I’d wait and have some life behind me, then go to seminary. Most of the women I watched become ministers as a young woman were first religious educators. So I think someplace deep inside my head, I assumed that I’d come out the other end of this work as a minister.
But after a few years of watching up close, I realized that there was no way I could be a minister. I don’t have the business acumen to run a church with finances and taxes and all that messy business. And I am just not willing to give up many of my weekends and so many evenings--because that’s when family life happens for most people most of the time. Even just as a religious educator, I felt like I was always out of synch with my family. They were off when I was on. They relaxed when I had my busiest times. Holidays were often frenzied with church responsibilities. And the ministers have even more to do. So, I am deeply grateful that I didn’t spend tens of thousands of dollars and the five long years it takes to be through all the training and school just to find out that I am not cut out to be a minister.
Within the relief, the thing I regret the most is leaving the lives of children who trusted me. That breaks my heart. I’ve known some of those kids through huge changes in their lives. They didn’t have to explain things to me, they could just be understood without having to do anything because I knew them, I knew their family, and I just understood. I wish I could stay in all the lives of children who I love. But it’s important that I get out of the way so that each child can build a new relationship with the new religious educator. So I have to let them go. They have to let me go. In the midst of all the relief, this is still terribly, terribly sad for me.
I figured there would be hard parts about some of this big transition. So in preparation, we planned to add a little beast to our family. We knew our older dog, Mr. Noodles needed a friend, and what better self made sabbatical project could you have than a puppy? Here's Miss Lucky Lily Belle!
Happy Trails, dear ones! And may all things good come to you and yours this church year. Thank you for reading this little blog.