I am ashamed to say that it has been over a month since I last posted. Numerous times I thought about it, but endings and packings got a little crazy.
The end of religious education and youth group ended in high spirits with wonderful prayer and remeberings and, yes, of course, a water balloon fight. It was very funny to sit in a circle for our final prayer all dripping wet. Luckily, we knew no one would need to sit in those chairs until Sunday, so it was all good.
School finished up well, also. The number of students dwindled little by little as those who were exempt from exams came only until they needed to. The state track meet was great. We had some great performances and wonderful memories. I left everything as ready as I could for the next person who might come take some of the responsibilities that I had.
One of the things I did before I left was to prepare a survey that I thought might be particularly useful for the district and the Spanish speaking families therein. I did it in English and then translated it into Spanish. I didn't know the word, "pair" in Spanish, as in to "pair bilingual families with strictly Spanish-speaking families," so I looked it up. When I finished, I brought it to one of the women in our parish to check for me. It's a good thing I did. She said the "pair" I had used was pairing as in "animal mating pairing." I don't think very many families would have signed up for that. Too bad I had just finished teaching connotation and denotation. I could have had another wonderful example.
The last Sunday at church, they had a lovely little going away for me. I was prayed over, we shared lunch, and I received a great card and a new backpack. The teens got down on their knees in front of one of the women at church who they are trying to convince to take over youth ministry responsibilities. I think that might have done it. We'll see.
The walls are going up in the new church and I understand they picked wall and floor colors last week. I can't wait to see it the next time I go back.
It was definitely sad to leave. Kate and I both choked up a few times, but our closure was good. We had good prayer and good conversation and good laughs. I kept telling people that it was really only a see you later, as I have to return to Ripley a couple of weekends from now, and hope to be back again for the church dedication.
So, now I am here in St. Louis. It's funny to be back in much the same physical space, but in very different space personally than I was when I started the novitiate four years ago. My room is mostly arranged, and Amy, Sandy, and I had dinner together two nights ago and got our living room set up for now. It came almost completely furnished, but we had to make it our own. What is really funny is that we moved all the furniture in numerous configurations ultimately to return everything to its original location except one side table which was moved next to the chair rather than the couch. We decided that we like it much better now. I don't know if it really made a huge difference or if it is just the fact that we chose to put the furniture where it is instead of having it already set for us. I don't know.
One thing that I am already lamenting here, is that I don't know anybody. That's not exactly true, but what I mean is that when I go to the grocery store I don't know three-fourths of the people there. It wasn't the secretary from school or the local banker on stage at Shakespeare in the Park last night. No one waves when I'm walking. Okay, it isn't always a good thing to know everyone everywhere as the gossip in a small town can be crazy, but there is something comforting and identity defining about it. Just one little thing I miss already--other than the people, of course.
I am pretty tired this Saturday afternoon after a week of packing and unpacking. After packing in Ripley and unpacking here, I have spent the last two days packing, moving, and cleaning in my classroom. I'm going to be teaching summer school in a month, so I have to get things ready there as well. Luckily, I leave for retreat tomorrow: pray, eat, walk, sleep, pray, eat, walk, sleep, pray, eat...sometimes to be alternated. Sometimes I run instead of walk. Sometimes I go for a swim. Sometimes my prayer includes writing or painting or reading, but you get the gist. I make light of it, but those of you who have ever had the opportunity to make an extended retreat know the gift of the time to still oneself, to sit in gratitude and reflect on the journey, to listen to God and fall in love all over again. Yes, it's a lot of quiet, and sometimes I think I might go crazy, but I always leave very renewed and ready to go again.
The transition continues, as does the blogging. Thanks, Dad, for keeping me up on my lack of posting. More after retreat.