My six-year old is at the stage where she is becoming her own person. She dresses herself, can mostly bathe herself, and can do quite a lot independently. With that independence comes a lot of letting go on my part. She only occasionally wants to hold my hand – she is too busy running ahead. She no longer likes to snuggle for naps – in fact she refuses naps unless they accidently happen on road trips. She usually gets annoyed when I tell her I love her – she insists she knows already.
One of those sweet practices that passed away over a year ago was rocking her to sleep at night in her rocking chair. I even remember rocking her when I was pregnant with my almost two-year old. But last night, out of the blue, she asked me to rock her. I had a list a mile long of things I needed to attend to last night, and the awkwardness of rocking my lanky 45-inch child seemed challenging. But those thoughts only took me a nanosecond to process. “Sure!” I told her. She somehow managed to curl her long body into my lap, resting her head on my chest. Time stood still for a moment as we rocked. I remembered how small her body had once been and I thought how incredible it was to have her back in my arms again. What a gift from my child.
Last week I announced to my parish that I had accepted a call to another parish. It has been a hard week, full of all sorts of reactions. Though I am excited about where God is calling me, I am also quite sad to leave a group of people who have loved me like family. It colors Lent for all of us, as we prepare to say goodbye on Easter Sunday.
Thinking about my experience with my daughter and all that is happening at St. Margaret’s, I decided that my Lenten discipline this year is to just be present: be present to those who need to express their anger at my leaving; be present to those who want to express their anxiety and concern; and be present to those who want to take a quiet moment to reflect on the goodness and tenderness of these last years. It may sound simple or ambiguous, but for me, that is the gift I can give St. Margaret’s as I take my leave – the gift of my presence. Please know that I am here – to meet you where you are and walk with you during this Lenten journey.