So many things I wish to say; so many wonderful memories I wish to recount; so many joys to reflect upon and graciously, just a sprinkling of mutual hardships to learn from. For weeks I have been pondering what to say in this final reflection to you. Which of the many highlights of our shared time together do I mention? Where do I even begin?
In the Benedictine Rule of Life, one of the essential elements is that of building the human community. It calls for thoughtful communication in such a way that opens the door for active listening. I mention this because I find my thoughts being flooded with sentiments of gratitude to this community that I fear an excessive quantity of words may bury the authentic and genuine appreciation I cherish for each one of you for the many gifts you given me—your love, friendship, guidance, forgiveness, compassion, companionship. However, a simple “Thank you!” feels insufficient. For all that you have given me, how can I possibly thank you adequately enough? How do I render a heartfelt thank you when words seem to fall short?
Truly, my soul is wealthy, and my life is blessed, in that I carry in my heart immeasurable memories and shared experiences with this community. I will carry St. Francis’ in my heart to the Diocese of Ohio and what you have taught me will inform my ministry there. I look forward to hearing about all the great strides you as a church will be making under the steadfast and faithful leadership of Rev. Laurie. You are at the beginning of new and exciting expressions of ministry, and I believe in my heart that you will thrive as you continue to love God and serve others in the name of Christ!
At my final staff meeting on this week, this quote was tenderly read:
“Community is not a group of people or an organization. Community is an outlook toward life in which you define yourself in relation to the world around you rather than only in connection with yourself. It is the opposite of narcissism…Community is not an arrangement of people; it is a form of love. It is felt, enjoyed, and enacted in service and celebration. If you can achieve agape, communal love, in your feeling and attitude, you are a long way toward finding your life work.” A Life at Work by Thomas Moore, page 151
I have taken this quote to heart. Its truth leaves me with a lump in my throat. I believe in its straightforward and candid wisdom and insight. It was part of a precious gift given to me and (with proper permission), I share now with you. The words are far more eloquent than I could ever fashion, and it is my prayer that you may continue to abide in its wisdom.
Many blessings, Rebecca