Over the last several weeks, as I was feted over many dinners, coffees, and a final blessing on Pentecost, I have been told repeatedly that Italians do not say goodbye, but arrivederci, see you later. Goodbyes are hard. Arrivederci softens the grieving of farewell with hope and the sure knowledge that we never really leave the people and places we have come to love.
I say arrivederci to Rome in deep gratitude for all who have been so kind to me. The ministers, staff, parishioners and volunteers of St. Paul’s Within the Walls in Rome and The Joel Nafuma Refugee Center, my collegio flatmates, and all the saints in Rome who have loved me and been my teachers and friends over these nine months. The Episcopal Church Mission Office and The Episcopal Church in Connecticut, its bishops, commission on ministry and other ministers and colleagues, Berkeley Divinity School and its leadership, the body of Christ at St. Paul’s Brookfield and Christ Church Bethany, my family and friends.
Leaving home was in some ways remarkably easy. For this I thank the grace of a missional heart that God nurtures within me. It also was not easy. In these months I have lost my father, and my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, all marking the passing of generations.
You don’t really get to know a place or a people in a few months, just an inkling of their deep deep heart. Yet, I have had the privilege of getting to know this body of Christ at St. Paul’s as my core life for these last nine months, and I have come to love this people. Thank you. Thank you all. I carry you into the service to which God calls me next, and wish for all of you the peace that passes all understanding.
When I was back in North Carolina for dad’s funeral, I had the pleasure of worshipping with Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Southern Pines, and heard God’s blessing pronounced by Rev. Mary Balfour Dunlap. I pass it on with her kind permission.
May the Lord Bless us and keep us.
May the Lord make his face to shine upon us and be gracious unto us.
May God give us grace not to sell ourselves short,
Grace to risk something big for something good,
Grace to remember that the world is now too dangerous for anything but truth, and too small for anything but love.
May God take our minds and think through them.
May God take our lips and speak through them.
May God take our hands and work through them.
May God take our hearts and set them on fire.