Moving got real over the weekend.
Packing up the house and finding another was exciting. Starting a new job was a welcomed joy. Picking out bedrooms and making new friends was an adventure. All the back and forth is tiring, but anytime you pack up and go away with kids, there are moments of fun and enthusiasm.
But Sunday things got real for all of us.
Our pastor called us forth at the end of Mass and asked the parishioners we have worshipped beside to join him in bestowing a blessing for departing parishioners. He was clear not to use the blessing for departed parishioners and I appreciated the distinction. As we stood there, child number two took my hand, child number one started to choke up. So did Maureen. So did I. There is something special about a place where you have been every weekend for years. A place where your children’s feet were washed and souls nourished. A place where you have bid farewell to friends and seen other begin their lives together. A place where dozens upon dozens of babies have been baptized and where, upon seeing it will happen, the faithful rejoice instead of grumble at the thought of Mass taking a little longer that morning.
We will miss the people we know only by where they sit. We will miss the parish staff and the deacons. We will miss the pastor, a treasured friend whose homilies were often peppered with quotes from people as varied as the parishioners themselves. Anyone who can work Annie Dillard, Oscar Wilde, and Thomas Merton into a homily and still tie it into the readings of the day is among the most well read of his brothers.
On Thursday, the children will repeat the scene at a school that will be even harder to leave. Saying goodbye to their friends will be tough, but in this day and age of Skype and instant messaging, those friendships will last. But saying goodbye to the teachers, especially the Oblate Sisters of St. Francis de Sales, will be nothing short of overwhelming. These incredible women of faith have welcomed our family into their home, recognized that parents are the first teachers in the ways of faith and should be partners in educating the young, and have lived every day as a model of love and joy and hopefulness. They ask the children to be their best selves, nothing more, nothing less. They challenge the children to live Jesus with great conviction because each day that is exactly what these sisters do. They are unequaled, unmatched, unbelievably generous, and our children will always be better for having been in their presence.
In a flash it will be over. The new school awaits. We have found a home at a new parish with great music and incredible preaching. We are excited about the new challenges and Maureen and I will be glad all the driving will cease (not to mention the $700+ in tolls since February). We will bring back movie night, which the children have missed since not being together. Pancake day will switch to Sundays so Maureen can begin a new tradition: walking with the women of “the circle” down the block to the diner for Saturday breakfast. Clean sheets are on the bed and the lego creations made with care and skill in their temporary living quarters, made it home safely last night.
Life begins again on Thursday. We will begin this new chapter as we end every school year: following the tradition started by my father. After a light dinner, we will enjoy all you can eat, make it yourself, ice cream sundaes. Life is good.
Hurry children. Hurry Maureen. Connecticut is waiting. The house is ready.
It’s time to come home.