I first met with Bill in a small local student hangout restaurant near campus around the first week of September. I ordered a chicken salad sandwich and Bill ordered a giant bowl of chili. Before this meeting, we had exchanged text messages, emails, and phone calls about the possibility of an internship for the 2018-19 school year, following my discernment of attending divinity school following my graduation. The conversation lasted a little over an hour, we shook hands, and I waited weeks for the church decision-making process to commence.
It’s a Wednesday evening, and I’m staring at my laptop screen, waiting for words to miraculously make their way from my brain onto the Microsoft Word documents that has blankly stared back for the past half hour or so. It’s not that there is nothing to say, but rather the contrary. How can it all be compacted into one page?
On the first Sunday of October, I had no clue what was to come. I was unaware of both the great joy and overwhelming pain that would come in the seven months that followed. What started as spiritually fulfilling ministry quickly shifted itself into a time of uncertainty. I’ve been forced to confront the very nature of human mortality, through Bill’s diagnosis in February, my grandfather’s death in April, and Bill’s death in May. For an individual who luckily had never needed to truly look at death head-on and grieve, the emotions seemed foreign.
Yet, through it all, I’ve felt loved. I’ve felt the love of a congregation who ministers and witnesses to a community in such a welcoming fashion, and I’m certain that this will continue in the months and years to come.
I’m thankful for the church for taking chance on me. I’m thankful for Bill for mentoring me in the short time we spent together. I’m thankful for Amy for giving me yet another example of strong, female church leadership. I’m thankful for the youth parents for entrusting me with the ministry of their children. And, dare I say, most of all, I’m thankful for the youth who have ministered more to me than I to them in the last seven months.
This isn’t a goodbye message, but rather, shall we call it, a “see you later.” I’m moving to my next phase in life, doing so both reflective on the past yet beautifully tainted with excitement towards the future. Thank you for walking this journey with me so far, and although our paths may be splitting at a fork in the road, I’m excited for our journeys to come.
With love, Luke