On leaving Seattle: No feeling is too much

On leaving Seattle: No feeling is too much

In six days, I will be making my way east [but really south] to Nashville where I’ll be starting a new job as Minister of Online Engagement with the United Methodist Church–a job that is calling me to one space, but necessarily away from another.

As a pastor’s kid, we moved a lot. Several cities in Iowa, in southern California, in the Philippines and finally in Seattle–a place where I have grown roots and have learned and loved to call home. Transitions are not uncommon in our family. Mostly related to ministry and vocation, opportunities have called us to seminary and graduate school, to teaching in Hawai’i, to leading a church in Guam or Alaska, and now to Nashville.

I’ve begun to say my goodbyes to the city and her people. Time carries a different weight when you know that it’s running out. I’ve often thought this week that I don’t want to fall asleep because I know that when I wake up, one more day will be lost, inching me closer and closer to the day I drive away from one home and towards another.

When asked how I’m feeling, I’m not sure how to answer. Fine? Hanging in there? SadExcited? I’m all of those things. There are times when I’ve found myself trying to hold it together, but nothing is gained in that. So I take my cue from Rilke:

Let it all happen to you: beauty and dread.
Simply go — no feeling is too much —
And only this way can we stay in touch.

For those who know me and my family, we’re a tight bunch. I love spending time with my parents. My sisters are my best friends. Since immigrating to the US in the early 80s, we’re all the family we’ve ever had [though we certainly have extended family spread on both coasts]. This particular dynamic sometimes proves difficult in ministry as we have also understood that the call to serve God and the church has taken us to places where we did not think we would go. As we’ve gotten older, that has meant separation from the people and places we love.

And so these past few weeks have been peppered with lunches and coffees and gatherings to say so long. I am grateful for the people who have made my community in Seattle and the experiences that I have been afforded here. But mostly, I am grateful for my family and conversation partners who have encouraged me to say yes and go forward in faith. I am blessed beyond measure and I cannot pause enough during the day to give thanks to the Holy One who continues to surprise us with what seems like more than we know what to do with.

I leave Seattle, Nashville-bound, with the words of Rilke again resounding:

Near here is the land
That they call Life.
You’ll know when you arrive
By how real it is. 

Give me your hand.