Sunday, May 18, 2014

Last Things

As we prepare to retire at the end of June we are facing the 'last things'. Today I was liturgist for the last time in a church pastored by my husband. I read from 1 Corinthians, Chapter 3. A lady told me it was the best Corinthians reading she'd ever heard. I hear Paul's voice in my mind. I am merely a conduit for his words.

The prelude today was a wonderful rendition of Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, one of the first hymns I learned after I joined my husband's denomination. I could hardly stem the tears when I stood to offer announcements and lead the call to worship.

We will spend this next week packing. It is the last time I will pack to move from a church parsonage, and God willing, we will not need to pack to move again for twenty or thirty years. We have lived in four states, eleven cities, ten parsonages. And we both moved once in childhood.

The sound of the tape ripping off the tape dispenser upsets our Kamikaze. She hates loud or unpredictable noises. But our Suki, who we adopted five and a half years ago, has already lived in three houses and she takes it in stride. They love our retirement home, and soon will forget they ever lived anywhere but there.

My husband has a vacation due and we are going across state to prepare our retirement home for moving in. Things that belonged to my folks, or that Dad bought after Mom's passing, will have to go to make room for our stuff. We carefully consider what we need and what we can give away, what goes into storage and what is sold. Heirlooms I have owned for twenty or thirty years are passed on to other family members. Antiques we collected but can't keep need new homes. We imagine a new environment for our new, permanent home. Furniture that fits, new things, permanent things.

Next month will be my husband's last worship service, his last communion served to his assigned church, and the last good-bye celebration as we leave a church. There will be a farewell dinner for all the retiring pastors in the conference, some of whom served in neighboring communities or who served churches we were also at.

1971 the year we met at college
Service in ministry is hard, and the itinerant ministry is even harder. I married  young, full of idealism and with a great faith in humanity. I did not believe then in evil. I had to encounter its many forms before I capitulated and accepted that evil does take residence in human hearts and contort relationships and corrupt institutions.

I have seen faith in action, how people can become the hands of a higher power and bring health and healing, wholeness and grace into lives. And both of these, evil and good, reside in each person waiting for our weakness or strength to loose them into the world.

Nearly forty-two years my husband and I have traveled this rocky road. Next month we reinvent the world. There are a lot of decisions to be made. The one thing I know is that I will, first thing, join that quilt guild in town and continue to explore the creative possibilities that quilting has offered me for twenty-three years. The creative process has grounded me when I needed it, invigorated me when I was down in heart, and offered me a therapeutic dose of happiness when around me was chaos.

We face many last things, but other things are 'forever'. And I thank God for those forever things in my life, especially for my best friend and partner, my husband and the father of my child.


  1. How beautiful your words are Nancy. I wish you every happiness in your retirement and may the joy of constancy in your new, permanent home bring you closer (if possible) to God and each other. Best of luck to you! Maureen Craig (Your Quilting FB Friend)

  2. A beautiful essay! It captures so well the experience when we stand for the last time on familiar ground and know it is our last time there. Or think we know, for we never really know where our paths will lead. But as T. S. Eliot wrote in "Four Quartets," in our ends are also our beginnings. Read T.S. Eliot's poem "Four Quartets," Part II East Coker----a poem for your current moment in time.

  3. Gaye I love the Four Quartets and that quote is a favorite. Sadly my Eliot is packed already... will have to go online. Thank you for reminding me of that wonderful poetry.