Just a few words here as I step off, dear Countrysiders:
First, thank you – for the warmth and kindness you have shown to me, over the years and in this last month together. Your encouragement has always meant a great deal to me, and all the more so in these final days. Thank you, too, for the shower of gifts and cards and hugs and well wishes (and delicious cake!) this past Sunday – please know that truly, you have been the gift, all along. I am profoundly grateful to all of you and to the many others who have sustained and grown this institution over the course of my literal lifetime; I’ll always be proud of my association with this beloved congregation. We have done important work together – and now, there is more important work for you to do without me. Steady on.
The next time we meet after March 1, I’ll no longer be your director of religious exploration. It’s hard to say just where or when our next meeting may be – two years’ break is the professional guideline for religious educators – but rest assured, I will always be glad to see you. Others will come along behind me at Countryside to fill the gap, and I hope and trust you will extend to them the same warm welcome and spirit of purpose and mission that you have with me. The gifts they bring to the work will not be just the same as mine, and that’s just fine – indeed, it is all to the good. That is how institutions live on – by embracing the gifts in what’s to come, and by letting go of what is no longer.
I want to thank Rev Denise for taking up the banner of social justice during our time together, and embracing this as part of our faith movement’s shared study and ministry – work I trust will continue at Countryside long after we have each moved on. And to Laurie and Alison, my heartfelt thanks for the years of collaborative ministry we have undertaken and for the collegial trust and friendship we’ve shared – it has been an honor to serve with you. And of course, to the many volunteers – our coordinators, teachers and facilitators throughout the lifespan, and everyone behind the scenes, who have helped our programs to thrive even in the most challenging times, my heartfelt blessing and thanks.
To our young people, I want to say how proud I am to know you, and what a privilege it has been to watch you grow over these years. You are not just the future of this faith – you are its vibrant, joyful, diverse, and powerful present, and I will miss you most of all, until we meet again.
At the start of the pandemic shutdown, my gentle counsel to all of you was this: let go, turn to one another, lean in. This is still my hope for you – even more possible now in many ways than it was at that moment. Be good to one another. Be well. And know that even as I let you go, I carry you with me, in my heart.