The thing about breakups is that you’re never really out of each other’s life. It’s an illusion to think that you can just sever ties (if that’s what you were hoping for) and then… Poof! No more connection.
It never happens like that.
When I made the decision, and then the subsequent announcement that I was leaving ADF and handing over the work of the Fellowship, I knew well and good that this wasn’t (nor did I want it to be) a clear, clean break. It was the beginning of a transition; one that may have begun a little suddenly and unexpectedly, but still simply a movement from one thing to another.
I’m not quite sure what I’m moving to in my own life. I don’t suppose it’s time to know that yet. But I do know that there are several people within ADF who, as I write this post, are working to make the transition go smoothly for the solitaries of the Fellowship. A priest is writing a new liturgy, a priest-in-training is considering the role of Organizer, and a number of thoughtful, considerate people have stepped forward to offer their talents to the cause.
This thing is going to live on.
And my work with the Fellowship will continue until the transition is complete. There are file folders, user-names and passwords that will need to be given to someone else. I’ve got document templates and drafts, all of which will have to be passed over, too. Perhaps most importantly, I’ve got to let go of that sense of ownership or authorship.
This was never mine, the Fellowship. It was never a thing to be possessed. It was an idea; a new way of thinking about service to solitaries. And the idea is out there now. It lives. And, with an inspired group of people behind it, it will grow in new and unexpected ways.
Last night I wrote what I think might be my last post on the SDF website. I needed to speak directly to the solitaries of the Fellowship and put this transition into a broader context — one that felt relevant to me, but that also might inspire them into reflection about their own lives.
Our religious lives may revolve around a liturgical calendar (the cycle of the seasons, the Wheel of the Year), but my experience has shown me that matters of the spirit and matters of the heart do not happen in a patterned, convenient fashion. They happen abruptly, and they demand that we readjust our thinking in the spur of the moment. In the process of doing so, while we try to reclaim our sense of balance as the ground still tremors beneath our feet, we do the real work of a spiritual life.
We experience a good and meaningful labor.
So, my charge to all of you — all of you who have shown up to speak or who have shown up in silence — is to continue your own good and meaningful labor in my absence. Take the tools which have been provided to you and fashion something relevant for your solitary observance of the Solstice. Or, use these words to get you started:
My heart is forged of good metal.
My spirit strong, unbroken.
I lift my hands and celebrate
This season of good labor.
May all my work be done with love;
Love for myself and for my kin,
And for my Kindred, known to me
Inside my heart and in the world.
This is the day of breaking forth
Into the future, arms outstretched.
I greet Unfolding Mystery
Rejoicing in this life I live!
I cannot begin to explain how grateful I am to have had the opportunity, again and again, to contextualize my own life in this way, season after season, for the benefit of a broader community. I had no idea it would be so meaningful to serve, or that baring one’s soul could act, in and of itself, as a kind of service.
It isn’t always pretty, what goes on inside of us. It isn’t always virtuous, or noble, or respectable, or admirable. But if it’s honest, it’s worth something.
It’s worth a lot.
It’s worth living for.