Thursday, June 16, 2011

Goodbye, Hello

I have found myself saying goodbye a lot recently.  

  • quit my day job at United Way
  • gave notice at Mission Hospital that July will be my last month to work PRN
  • will serve as acolyte for the last time at All Souls next Wednesday
  • began saying goodbye to Asheville-based friends with Last Coffee meetings or lunches
  • said goodbye (again) to my best friend of 21 years last weekend at her second memorial service
  • packed up for "storage until next year" all my family photo albums and memorabilia
  • gave away bags of clothes that don't "fit"
So now it's really sinking in.  If I wasn't planning on moving to Alexandria for a year of seminary, you might think that I was planning to end my life.  

However, I have also found myself saying hello a lot recently.
  • exploring new apartments and places to live
  • entertaining what kind of ministry I might find for field education
  • inspired by recent "pioneer minister" work of fresh expressions for church
  • intrigued by the strategic and organizational change that The Episcopal Church is making
  • e-meeting new friends-of-friends who live in Alexandria
  • planning visits of family and friends to our new digs, once we get moved in

I have this sense that to live fully alive means to embrace all the goodbyes and to live into the hellos - in every moment.  To welcome whatever comes up - be it tears, joy, laughter or sadness.  It's not all easy, it's not all happy, it's not all sweetness and light.  Life is both. 

I recently heard about Cynthia Bourgeault's "Welcoming Prayer" that has helped me be alive to this set of feelings.  Here is a short run-through of the prayer method. 

The Welcoming Prayer

  1. Focus and sink in — Feel the feeling. Don’t run away from it or fight it.
    Stay with this until you really experience a connection to the feeling or emotion on not just an emotional but also a physical level.
  2. Welcome — Affirm the rightness of where you are and acknowledge God’s presence in the moment by saying: “Welcome, [fear/anger/etc.].”
    Don’t just say this and move on. Repeat it and sit with the feeling until you experience a genuine sense that you welcome it, that you are not fighting against it.
  3. Let go — Say “God, I give you my [fear/anger/etc.],” or one of the other phrasings if you find it more meaningful.
    At this point, you can turn the feeling or emotion over to God and let it go. If you haven’t truly felt it and welcomed it in, you may still experience resistance here. Stay in the letting go, or turn back to the focus or welcome stages as appropriate.

How are you welcoming all your goodbyes and hellos in this moment?

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