In a fit of New Year’s clean-up-and-organizing fervor, I decided to collect up all of the baskets and piles and drawers of letters and cards and Christmas pictures that had nestled into various corners of the house. My goal was to eliminate the envelopes with addresses I no longer needed, and consolidate the cards and letters into a single container.
I achieved that much, but what I couldn’t have imagined was how much more I gained in the process. Little did I know, but there were old friends, former parishioners, semi-distant relatives, so many lovely souls who had been trying to keep in touch over the years. For many reasons, I’m pretty sure I’m the one who dropped my end of the tenuous thread that held those relationships together.
Why? What a mix of difficult thoughts and emotions here – shame, sadness, confusion, mostly shame, actually. I thought I’d left parish life under a cloud, one that I wasn’t strong enough to lift on my own. I didn’t see that others either wanted to lift it for me, or never really believed it was there. I just hid there, wishing it would go away.
And now? I’m not sure about the cloud – it may have dissipated, or rolled away like fog on the shore, or just tucked itself into some obscure corner of my soul. What I am aware of now is a feeling of gratitude, a desire to acknowledge all these dear people whose kindness went unacknowledged but not unappreciated over the years. I’m not sure how to do that, except by a card or note of thanks, and I’ll probably take that up as a practice in the coming weeks.
If you are reading this, and think you may be someone who has not heard from me in a while, please know that the precious relics of your caring friendship are still here, and still cherished. Thanks be to God for you.