We are preparing to leave the church building that has been our spiritual home for many years, and just like leaving any home, we will take the time to honor the time we have spent within these sacred walls. In many ways, this physical place has helped form us into the people we have become; it’s only right that we pause and give thanks for all of the blessings even as we grieve the process of moving on.
When we move
from one residence to another, we often get so caught up in the forward thrust
of where we are going that we forget to properly say goodbye to the home we are
leaving behind. Yet saying goodbye is an important part of moving forward. It
gives us a sense of completion so that we are able to fully inhabit our new
space, having left nothing of ourselves in the old one. In this way, we honor
the space that has held and nurtured us. At the same time, we empty it so that
the new residents can make this space their own.
This may sound weird to some, but I have generally tried to do a final walk through of all the places I’ve ever lived in a ritual of my own devising. For me, this has always been done alone, and I purposefully walk through the front door in a mindful, quiet inner space. I’ve tended to prepare myself mentally and spiritually so that I can be as present as I can possibly be, and as I enter the house, I greeted the place in my mind with words like, “I have come to thank you for being my home and to say goodbye.” I have touched the walls with my hands as I moved through my home, remembering with chuckles and tears all the events that come to mind. I have stood in each room, examined each wall and closet, sending up a prayers of gratitude for the years of safety and love I experienced there. I also say a prayer for the next tenants as I do this, praying that God will reveal Himself to them, and that they will always feel safe, secure and loved in the space. If I had used the yard for plantings or growing vegetables, I also make a quick trip around the house, remembering, blessing, and interceding for all those who will come after me.
Making my way again to the front door, knowing that I have completed my final journey through my home, having prayed for those who will soon fill the space with their own dreams and struggles, I mark the sign of the cross above the front door with my finger, closing the door one last time. The future is always unknown, but as a man cursed with terminal hopefulness, I leave the past behind and ready myself to embrace my new home, where I am sure new blessings and challenges await. The God who had blessed me in the old home is the one constant in my life, the One who will someday bring me home for good. And therein lies the basis of everything I think, feel and do. It’s all good, because it’s all God.
I recommend this simple ritual to all of you who have lived, laughed, cried and loved in our church over the years. Having said our own goodbyes individually, we will then gather on August 25 for a family farewell service and dinner. God has blessed us, is blessing us, and will continue to bless us always.
Fr. Michel �6��א