How I’m feeling about Leaving

Today is our last Sunday at St Matthew’s and St Oswald’s church where I have been a curate for the last 4 years but a worshipping member for 18 years prior to that.

This is how we looked just  a few months before  we arrived

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Here we are now (this time in front of a slightly more attractive fence)

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(I love this picture: we all seem to be thinking ‘how on earth did this happen? But here we all are anyway’).

I think it was Mahatma Gandhi who said ‘We must let go of what we are in order to become we will be’ . That might sound blindingly obvious but it’s not easy to do when it feels like you’ve spent half your life time in one place.

Today is only the culmination of a long period of thought and prayer  and during this times it has been poems and prayers that have sustained me, some of which I just want to post up now.

The first one is too raw to quote to in full, so I’ll only manage the first few verses…

Letting Go

It’s time to go,

I can smell it, 

Breathe it,

Touch it. 

And something in me trembles. 

I cannot cry,

Only sit bewildered, 

Brave and helpless,

That it is time. 

Time to go. 

Time to step out

Of the world

I shaped

And watched become. 

Time to let go

Of the status 

And the admiration. 

Time to go. 

To turn my back

On  a life that throbs

With my vigor

And a Spirit

That soared

Through my tears.

…. Edwina Gateley quoted in My Own Worst Enemy by Janet Davis (very helpful book about silencing your inner critic)

This poem was at the head of a chapter titled: ‘Learning to Recreate in the Midst of Loss’ a phrase which possibly summarises just about everything that’s going on in my life at the moment,

The second prayer poem is (helpfully) much more focussed on God and less on me, without denying the turbulent nature of my current experience. It’s by David Adam and is in his book Music of the Heart

Into the Deep

Lord, you disturb me, unsettle me, 

Moving me out of the shallows, 

You draw me into the great deep. 

You beckon me to the mighty sea, 

Though by boat is frail and small. 

You lead me away from comfort, 

From safety that is like the grave. 

You ask me to travel in faith, 

With no apparent light to guide. 

In the darkness and the danger, 

You show me the stars and your love. 

You disturb me, unsettle me, O God, 

Seeking to lead me into new life and hope. 

You ask me to let go of my possessions, 

To make more room in my life for you. 

You seek to possess me and to fill me, 

How empty my life is without you. 

You disturb me, unsettle me, O God,

Yet you offer me your strength and peace. 

Above everything, you offer me yourself, 

Your presence brings me power and relief. 

You never leave me or forsake me, O God, 

I rejoice in you and in your everlasting love. 

Praise be to you, O God, in you, I ever abide, 

On the oceans of the world, whatever the tide. 

I love this prayer because at my ordination retreat two years ago we contemplated a picture of a small person being carried in a little sail boat over a big ocean. But the little person wasn’t alone, she wasn’t even steering or setting the direction, there was a big person at the rudder and the little person’s role was to simply consent to be carried and to trust.   (Amazing that this picture should stay with me! You need to know I’m not a good sailor – sea-sickness tablets may yet be required!)

And, because all good things come in threes, here is the third and final prayer that sustains me.  It’s a statement of faith from Celtic Evening prayer.

Lord, You have always given
bread for the coming day;
and though I am poor,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always given
strength for the coming days;
and though I am weak,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always given
peace for the coming day;
and though of anxious heart,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always kept me
safe in trials;
and now, tired as I am,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always marked
the road for the coming day;
and though it may be hidden,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always lightened
the darkness of mine;
and though the night is here,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always spoken
when the time was ripe;
and though you be silent now,
today I believe.

2 thoughts on “How I’m feeling about Leaving

Add yours

  1. Hi Sheila,

    I have no idea what new episode of your life you are embarking on. I’m catching up on your recent posts and can’t see anything there.

    But what I do know is that what you’ve set above in your post resonated with me as I have been through so much change recently. I’ve moved from faith to disbelief and back to faith again. Change is never easy. These poems you’ve quoted are amazing but I probably relate right now more to the first two and hope, in time, I will be able to relate more fully to the last.

    I hope and pray that, whatever you are embarking on, you hold fast to faith, that God holds your hand and leads you.
    thanks so much for this.

  2. Hi, I was away from the blog for a long time after I put up this post so I didn’t have a chance to reply. Thanks for sharing your journey, I see you’ve already seen the sequel post to this so you’ll realise I wrote this about leaving one church and beginning to lead another. This is a huge step from me from all that is familiar to everything different. Also from not leading to leading. I echo your prayer for me for you also that God will hold you fast. It often helps me to remember it’s not my job to hold on, he promises to hold me.

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