Charlotte in the Rearview

As I meticulously pack framed photos between layers of bubble wrap and stack sheets and towels in boxes, I can’t help but reflect on the whirlwind of the past three months. It has been a season of letting go. A season of learning what it means to take leave with grace and gratitude. A season of giving thanks for people, places, belongings, experiences, and opportunities while embracing the impending changes in my life.

Just twelve weeks ago I was working on a notebook for my successor at St. Mary’s and writing notes to the children in Godly Play. Even though I knew my replacement was the perfect person for the job, even though I knew I was called to seminary, even though the celebration of my ministry on May 15th was an overwhelming and joyous occasion, it was hard to leave. St. Mary’s is often in my thoughts and always in my prayers. I am grateful beyond words for the opportunity to serve there. Ministering with the staff and parishioners of St. Mary’s over the past four years led me directly to my next calling and pushed me to work for the betterment of the Diocese of North Carolina and the Episcopal Church.

Although there were a few weeks in between, I feel as though I drove straight from my last day at St. Mary’s to Hendersonville for our wedding. Over a year of planning came to a head so quickly! Our photographers, Jen Yuson Photography, captured the fantastic day so well, it was all I could have hoped for. Throughout the weekend feeling of excitement, love, gratitude, and joy were mixed with a sense of letting go. As we join our lives in marriage to another we gain a life partner, but we let go of our family of origin as our primary relationship. We let go of personal dreams and independence in order to dream and form a life together. I don’t think this can be anything but a leap of faith. Richard and I have taken the leap with excitement, but we are already praying for the support, strength, courage, and love needed in the challenges that will come.

After a fantastic honeymoon in Jamaica we began to plan for our second leap of faith this summer: moving to Virginia Theological Seminary. I am thrilled to be starting the three-year Master in Divinity program this August and so grateful for Richard’s support. He will be leaving behind a city he loves, family, friends, co-workers, favorite restaurants and disc golf courses to join me in the unknown. Moving this year was not his first choice and I am thankful beyond words for his willingness to sacrifice so that I can follow my passion.

As of today…

Boxes are stacked up all around our apartment, mail forwarding is set up, cable and utilities cut off at the end of the month, and the movers are schedule for Saturday. We will be packing everything in a POD, which will be shipped to Alexandria, then driving our cars up on Sunday. We will move into temporary housing at VTS while the new married student apartments are being completed. The current timeline for our building, Osage Orange, is the end of August.

As I have been going through this season of letting go the New York Times best seller “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” has given me a unique framework for processing the changes in my life. The author, Marie Kondo, suggests that when we take stock of our belongings instead of asking, “Do I need this?” or “Will I use this at some point?” we start asking, “Does this bring me joy?” By trashing or donating the household items that no longer bring us joy, the things that do bring us joy become visible. Instead of letting things that we don’t even like pile up around us, we can choose to surround ourselves with the things that bring us joy. This summer I have realized that the concept applies to much more that belongings. Letting go of the commitments that no longer bring us joy makes time for the things that do bring us joy. Letting go of the relationships that no longer bring joy to our lives makes room for the people that do. As The Church we should also follow Kondo’s advice, letting go of the ministries and programs that no longer touch people in a meaningful and spiritual way in order to spend more time, talent, and treasure on those ministries that bring transformation and joy. 

As we head north on Sunday with Charlotte fading in the rearview I am newly committed to  filling my life with joy. I look forward to filling my walls with photos and artwork that make me smile. I look forward to finding time for the activities that make my heart glad. I look forward to strengthening my relationships with the people that make my life in this sometimes terrifying world not only bearable but joy-filled.