This is our last Sunday worshiping at Poplar Grove United Methodist Church. Six years all come down to these last two Sunday services (the Church is giving itself a week's break between Lisa and the incoming pastor, Paul Nolden).
It really hasn't hit me yet that we are really leaving. I know I will be sitting in the congregation this morning, as usual, shaking hands and smiling and chatting before service (and, yes, grabbing a cookie or two from the kitchen . . .), looking out at the faces that have become so familiar to me. I know there will be laughter and smiles as we exchange stories.
Yet, I also know - even though the emotional impact hasn't quite happened yet - this is the last time we will be sitting there. The last time all those faces and voices will be part of my week-to-week life. On one level, I think it's good that we're moving on. The comfort and familiarity provided by years of presence can cloud judgment and even discernment. All the same, it is all too human to favor the familiar to the new. In particular, when it comes to interrupting or changing our relationships with others, the emotional toll can be rough, to say the least.
The past six years have been, in many ways, the happiest of my life. I feel more at peace with myself, with my life, than at any time since seminary. I feel like I have a bit of a vocation. My children have attained the age where their need for us as parents is less immediate (for the most part), which gives to Lisa and me more time to work on our marriage, which is a good thing.
I would be less than human, I think, if I didn't feel more than a little pain at the prospect of severing the day-to-day ties with the folk here. Friendships have been built, confidences shared, milestones marked. While I have little doubt that the people at Cornerstone UMC are faithful, and that our time there will yield friendships and laughter, those are not yet, and the friendships and ties to which we will be saying farewell are all too real.
So, today will not be an easy day. It is a Sunday, busy with all sorts of Sunday stuff - I'm playing bells at the 10 o'clock service, then it's home to sleep for work tonight - and that routine will provide comfort, as routine always does. All the same, it is the end of that routine. On Friday morning, when I leave work, I will be headed to 10 days off work so we can move; the last of the packing will be done in a rush. Our life will shift from this little suburban enclave to the country life of Plato Center (Lisa's fourth appointment and still not to a town with a grocery store, something her mother pointed out to us). A whole new set of people to meet and get to know.
And I know, for quite some time, there will be a little hole in my heart because the folk who have shared my worship of God over the past six years are no longer my community of support.