The top of my list of things that I will miss=Calvary Church.
I grew up at this church, took a hiatus to be a presbyterian (gasp!), came back because I was called. No really, I got an actual phone call to come and work there, and I knew that was it. I knew working with youth at this church was how I would start my life. I didn't know a whole lot then, when I was a junior in college, and since then I've gone from being a very part time intern to a not so part time intern to a full time worker for youth, children, their parents, communications, party planning, and basically making sure that everyone is wearing their fun pants. But everyone who works in a church that if you're "part-time," you're full time, and if you're full time, it's your life.
Things I want to take with me (in no particular order):
1. The alcove I share with Heather and Cap (they can come, too)
2. This sculpture:
3. Song Time with George (this may happen at any time)
4. Children's Chapel
5. The little people
6. Secretly clever-ing up the website
7. Learning more from people ages 12-18 than from any teacher, adult, or peer I know
8. Otherwise embarrassing situations that people have come to embrace as who I am
9. Home-baked communion bread. OR knowing that the person who was supposed to bake the communion bread forgot and stopped by Schnuck's on the way into church to pick up some Hawaiian bread for communion
10. Well, communion stories in general
11. Watching kids write their names on their nametags and making their family late to church
12. Tap dancing in the Great Hall
13. The way we do Palm Sunday
15. Not wanting to wake up on Sunday mornings sometimes, but when I get there, I'm so glad I do, because I wouldn't want to miss a second of a Sunday.
16. Having to go to bed early on Saturday nights
17. Well, everything.
But what I'll miss more than anything: Helen. Helen is a powerhouse of love, energy, teamwork, hilarity, ridiculousness, depth, helpfulness, excitement, enthusiasm, brains, heart, gumption, and mind reading. In case you think I'm being vague (I can't stand vague), Heather+Ellen=Helen.
I love pews.
I have this other friend who is also leaving the world of Episcopal youth ministry in Memphis to go to grad school. Well, he's going to seminary. He has had a great impact on my life in the last 3 years that we have known each other, and sometimes the things he says assures me that he will be a wonderful priest. He preached a homily last week that drew upon the story of Jacob wrestling with the angel (God) and walking away with a limp. It was good and necessary for him to encounter God, and his limp (and his name) showed that he was forever changed by the encounter. My friend equated this to his experience working with youth. Because of his work, he encountered God with the people he served, and it was hard, but necessary. Now that he can see the end in sight, he has been changed by his interaction with God through these young people. He doesn't walk with a limp, nor did he change his name, but his heart has been bettered by what he's been shown by God in the process.
I have had some deep conversations with this friend over the past 3 years, but I have never felt more connected to him than when I heard him say these things. He won't ever know that, because I won't tell him, and it doesn't even matter. He has some of my photographs to show him how much I have valued the time I spent knowing him and the time we shared together in ministry.
Another reason I know that I'm supposed to do this: I like that photos can do the talking when I can't find the words.
Every day that I get closer to leaving, the more grateful I become for all the people I have gotten to work with and for. Every experience I've had with them has led me closer to discovering my gifts and given me the confidence to use them. I always thought that being at home, going to and working for the church I grew up in, and going to our city's university would stunt me. I always dwelt on my misfortune of not "going to college." I don't need to compare myself to anyone else; what I've learned from my work has been the most important thing in my life. It's made me who I am, and given me the tools to be myself in everything I do. I was lost, then I was found, and although I may go and get lost again, I know who I am created to be: always changing and always serving.