About eight weeks ago, when I was offered the teaching position that would take me away from St. Anthony’s, I had a difficult bit of discernment to do.
On the one hand, I had been trying for almost 30 years to obtain teacher certification in the K-12 school system, having been repeatedly thwarted in this effort by events and circumstances of varying degrees of absurdity. Accepting the job would give me the chance to satisfy a long-held dream.
On the other hand, accepting the job would take me away from a place with an unshakeable hold on my heart.
Careful discernment was indeed in order.
I spent some time in the cemetery on the north lawn, seeking Peter’s guidance. I sensed that he gave me his blessing to go and satisfy my long-held dream.
I spent some time in the chapel in the heart of the house, seeking the guidance of any of Heaven’s denizens who turned an ear. I sensed a Heavenly stamp of approval on the idea of my leaving here to satisfy a long-held dream.
I spent an early morning walking the corridors of the house, as Sister Cool Night Air lingered still and Brother Morning Sun tiptoed through the very walls of the house itself, transcending the artificial divide between Creation Out-of-Doors and Creation Within-Doors. As I reveled in the loveliness of being unable to tell where fresh, cool outdoors began and fresh, cool indoors ended, I sensed that the house itself gave me its blessing to go and satisfy my long-held dream.
This house is, after all, tailor-made for embracing – and setting free – those who are dreaming, seeking, in-process-of-becoming. This is, after all, the perfect place to find the courage, the strength, and the wisdom to [re]connect with the “you” you were created to be. And so I go with the blessing of this very house to become the fullest iteration of that person I was created to be.
As I spend my last night in the comforting embrace of this house, I am reminded of another’s leave-taking from St. Anthony’s.
On a cold December night in 1998 as the hour drew close to 10, my Brother Loran was packing a final load of his belongings in his red-and-white Dodge Dakota, almost ready to leave us at St. Anthony’s for his new ministry at St. Fidelis Friary, a world away in Appleton. I remember distinctly that this load contained his old typewriter, the one in a scuffed-up green case. I remember this because he had the typewriter in his hand as I rushed down the stairs in my pyjamas, a pair of fuzzy slippers, and a plaid bathrobe to bid him farewell.
I suspected that he was purposely trying to sneak out in the middle of the night, so that he wouldn’t have to deal with a tearful farewell from me. Then again, if he had wanted to sneak out before I even knew he was gone, he probably wouldn’t have chosen to do his sneaking rather noisily through the door right below my room.
I leaned over the railing of the landing: “Loran!”
“What?” [laughter, as he looked up.]
“Were you going to sneak out without saying goodbye?”
“Of course not!,” [an indignant sniff as he, typewriter in hand, came up the stairs towards me on the landing.]
I started to cry as I hugged him.
“Oh, get over it;” he put the typewriter down to pat my back, “it’s not like you’ll never see me again!”
And he was right, of course. He was about 17 years’ worth of right.
Here, now, that moment, this place – what meaning do such terms even hold, in the scheme of Eternity?
It’s not like we’ll never see each other again.
It’s not like I’ll never be blessed with the joy of this house again.
And in the meantime, I leave the whole of this wonderful, beautiful community and the very house itself with a gift of blessing, a gift sung by another who loves this house well and who generously shared his blessing with me for this, my final Chronicle. I thank you, Fr. Tom, for the gift of your song. I thank you for allowing me to use your sung prayer as part of my farewell.
And I thank the faithful housemate who will take to her keyboard and continue this Chronicle when I am gone.
And I thank all who call this place home; all those who serve as light, comfort, and guide upon each seeker’s journey to the fulfillment of a long-held dream.
For continuity, for joy, for love, for dreams, for past/future/present, for community that never ends,