I’m home! I’m home, and it feels so good.
The last week of my internship was a jam-packed, emotional time. Knowing that so many lasts were taking place was such a weird feeling. I tried to take in as much as I could. I’m still processing it all, though.
Tuesday, I accidentally missed my last staff chapel, which was a bummer. But I did make it to staff meeting and then went out for lunch with everyone. Wednesday, I got to lead worship in Noon Prayer for the last time. Artie Lucas, a prison minister, was ordained that day. Thursday, I had my last worship team rehearsal. It was also Pastor Eric’s birthday, so we had a surprise party with cake and pie. My last meetings with Pastor Eric and Pastor Derek were bittersweet. It was good to hear their affirming words as I move onto the next chapter of my life, but sad to know that I won’t be having those weekly doses of wisdom and conversation any longer. Friday was my last night at church, and then Saturday I went to a game at Kauffman Stadium. Corey, the drummer for the worship team, got a group of people together so that I could experience a Royals game before I left. How nice! They beat the Twins 7-3 so it was fun!
My Last Day
Sunday was my last day at church. I got there a little before 8am for sound check, and everything just felt so surreal. A few greeters hugged me as I came into the church and wished me well as I left Word of Life. Then rehearsal and sound check went on as usual. I played keys for the service, and I actually had the privilege of leading a song. One of my internship “learning outcomes” was to write a song. I had been working on some stuff all summer, and Pastor Eric asked if I would lead a particular song I had written on my last Sunday here. I was hesitant but I agreed. It was kind of intimidating because he’s such a great songwriter and musician, so the congregation is a bit spoiled. I didn’t want to impose my inferior song on a great worship service. But it turned out to be okay. The song was fairly simple, so people caught on quickly and were singing along. It was really encouraging to get to do that.
After church came the goodbyes. Hugs and kind words and parting gifts – it was nice, but surreal. I left thank-you notes in the staff mail room, and then headed out to my car. I sat in my car and just thought about how I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want to pull out of the parking lot. I started to get kind of teary-eyed. Pastor Jake, the youth pastor, called and asked if I was still at church because the 678 band wanted to say bye. I pulled around to the front door and they all came out and hugged me and said goodbye. They prayed over me, and then went back inside for rehearsal. I got back in my car only to experience the same feeling as before. Didn’t want to leave. I pulled around to the other side of the building and saw Pastor Derek and Pastor Eric both getting in their cars. Derek got out and gave me a hug and said one last goodbye, and Pastor Eric said goodbye one last time before driving away, too. Overall, it was such an abrupt end to a meaningful summer. But I’m glad that I at least got the chance to say a meaningful goodbye to a few of the people who helped make it so great.
I finally had to leave the church. It was silly for me to just sit in the parking lot. But as I drove away, I was filled with joy. I was filled with peace. I was reminded of a few things that I had previously been looking over. First of all, my last Wednesday Noon Prayer was a day of ordination for Artie Lucas. Secondly, I had the privilege to introduce a brand new song to the congregation on my last Sunday. Lastly, Sunday was also new member day at WOLC. Those three events that coincided with my “lasts,” were actually firsts. Calling them “lasts,” I realized as I drove away from Word of Life, is greatly selfish. A man was ordained to a great calling of ministry. That is the beginning of something wonderful. A new song was born, so the congregation was able to worship together and express praise through lyrics they had never sung before – a new beginning. And the most meaningful event of all – new member Sunday – marks the initiation of of dozens of individuals into a community of faith. My lasts were not lasts. My lasts were others’ firsts. My lasts were simply small threads in the tapestry of grace. Trying to think selflessly like that helped me to end my time at Word of Life more graciously than I would have been able to do on my own.
The Opportunity of a Lifetime
At risk of sounding cheesy or over-spiritual, this really was a life-changing opportunity. I am certain that the things I’ve experienced and learned at Word of Life will continue to form and inform my life and ministry for years to come. If you’re interested in learning more about my summer, asking me any questions, or talking more deeply about my experience in St. Joseph, please let me know! I love talking about it. I just feel that wordpress.com isn’t the most ideal place to share every detail of the soul’s experiences.
Sunday after church, I packed up the last of my things and got a good night’s sleep (eleven hours of sleep, to be exact). Monday morning, I left at 9:36 with a full tank of gas and a fully charged iPod. The iPod cord ended up being broken, so actually I had no iPod. Either way, I still made it home. Arrival time was 8:21pm. I was so, so happy as I drove through Lexington on the way to my house. I got butterflies as I neared my street. I pulled into the driveway, left my keys and all my things in my car, and ran into the house to see everyone. It was surreal (I know I keep using that word, but it’s a good one to use). It was so good to be back with everyone! My dad had cooked me a wonderful dinner, and we ate as soon as I got home. My mom had cleaned my room, bought me my favorite Izze soda, and put fresh flowers in my room. John was here, and his mom Hazie made me some of my favorite cookies. My sisters had made me gifts and a huge “welcome home” sign. Needless to say, they all spoiled me right off the bat. It was also great to sleep in my own bed after over two and a half months!
Well, with the encouragement of others, I think I’ve decided to keep this blog going. If you were only following to see how the internship was panning out, feel free to unfollow me. But if you’re interested in someone talking about theology and perhaps a few other topics, keep checking out the blog. I’ll have to change the name of it, but I think I’ll keep it up.
Tomorrow, I head to Gatlinburg to see John’s cousin get married. Next week, I head to Virginia to visit grandmas. After that, I (hopefully) find a job, and then start school on August 20th. I’m back to the averageness of everyday life, but I’m striving to make the most of it. A day’s all you need. Live richly one day at a time and you’ll create a beautiful journey for yourself.
Here’s to the future,