Thankful Tuesday: Blessing in the Leaving

As we walk into the church, I think about the last Sunday in our church in San Francisco: how we sang the hymns and walked away as a family. How we stopped at the farmer’s market and bought ripe cherries. How we sat at Alamo Square Park and stared at the city scape. My then four-month-old slept against me and I took August’s shirt off as the cherry juice poured down his newly three-year-old chest. That’s how we said goodbye.

Today, it’s raining. Rain in a parched land feels holy, like a sending off. Chris says his mind keeps tricking him into thinking he’s in the Northeast: all that green is shocking here.

Of course, our umbrellas were packed and shipped off to California and our temporary, furnished house did not come supplied with wet weather tools. Chris is bearing a lovely black plastic trash bag. He cut holes for his sleeves. August wishes he had one too.

So, it’s a drop off kind of Sunday morning. Pull up to the front of the building, frantically open the kids’ doors and undo carseat belts. Run.

* * *

My first day at Christ Church, I was very uncomfortable at one particular moment.

Part way through the service, after the Passing of the Peace, everyone with birthdays or anniversaries is invited to come to the front.

When I first encountered this weekly ritual, I thought: Really? It seemed quaint. It seemed cheesy.

But come they did. Couples and children. The pastor asked the kids how old they were and they answered cutely. People chuckled. It was like church in Mayberry. Then, our pastor asked us to hold out our hands, arms stretched out straight at the lives before us. We prayed out loud a blessing. I could barely raise my hand. I was not quite sure how I felt about this idea. I am always a critic first.

It’s funny how something near-dorky done in earnestness can grow on you. The more you participate, the more you move past your pose of coolness, the more freedom you find in your spirit.

This day, this last day, brings two couples to the front. Two couples in their late sixties, early seventies. Two couples who are pillars of this church. I cannot remember their names but I know them and I’m grateful for them. They announce their years of marriage: “47 years!” one couple says. “51” says the other. Everyone claps when one of the men makes a silly face and gives a thumbs up.

And when we raise our hands to their lives, I watch that same man place his hand on his friend’s shoulder beside him. Even as he is prayed for, there he is, blessing the other.

I cry.

* * *

How do you say goodbye to a good, true home? I’ve been sent away with praises before. And that sending was sweet and significant and powerful for my life. But this day, with our boys in our arms, our pastor calls us up for the closing benediction.

And we are invited, with him, to hold our arms out, our hands open, to the congregation. We are invited to bless them.

And we do. With tears and with our boys in our arms, we bless them.

After, Chris pulls me in to his side, and August from the height of his father’s arms wraps his arm around me and Brooks. The four of us in this small, strange, weepy family hug. And I think, God, thank you.

God. Thank you.

* * *

It’s Thankful Tuesday. What is your Thankful today, friend?

Photo Credit: paumurp at Flickr

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  • Amen, amen – thank you Jesus. Thank you for your body on earth, broken and messed up and in some places just brimming with love.

    I’m thanking Jesus for my own church family, who love me even though I have not been to a service in 8 months.

    • michaboyett

      Tanya, I’m always grateful to hear from you. Your attitude inspires me.

  • Pingback: Thankful Tuesday: Rain « G. C. Jeffers()

  • Beautiful post, Micha.

    Here is what I am thankful for today: http://gcjeffers.wordpress.com/2012/09/18/thankful-tuesday-rain/

    • michaboyett

      Loved reading your post today, Greg. Thanks for joining in. (Someday we’ll talk about my five golden years in Abilene. Love that town. Seriously, I do.)

      I’m glad Thankful Tuesday is growing on you. 🙂

  • I love this. Such blessing, in every word.
    I’ve had to say those goodbyes too and I know how it feels. Peace to you, Micha.

  • It’s always amazing how something isn’t always what it seems, how something which seems a bit cheesy can become deeply meaningful. Thanks for sharing.

  • Wish I could have been there for the benediction, Micha. We will miss the humour and energy you and Chris bring to Christ Church and our lives too. Blessings on your travels! (All of them)

  • kate

    –near a week of beautiful blue skies and 70 degree temperatures followed by a cozy day of wind and storms. i love to listen to the wind.
    –one plus of having your house up for sale is that it forces you (e.g. your spouse) to keep things more tidy than life would otherwise have it. i am not a neat freak by any stretch but i feel more peaceful and content without clutter.
    –conversations about hard things with people whom i trust/admire and feel safe to raise up questions
    –continued growth in my earnest heart toward Christ-likeness and the fact that I’m getting better at saying ‘i screwed up, Lord please forgive me, person-whom-I’ve-hurt forgive me, now try again, kiddo.’
    micha–no word on the job front yet for our family, denver not out of the running but no definitive decision can be made until we know whether/not our house will sell. blessings on all that you have going on now and especially on your getaway to italy.

  • abby

    Finally joining in and glad to put my thankfulness down on paper.


  • You gotta stop doing this, kid. I get weepy every single time I come by here. Sigh. This is a lovely – and yes slightly corny – but somehow real tradition and I’m glad to read about it. And I love that you blessed the congregation as you left – what a wonderful ritual. Traveling mercies to you and your little ones. And good welcome in the city by the bay.

    • michaboyett

      Ha! My husband says making people cry is my spiritual gift. 🙂 Thank you for the mercies. As always, so grateful for your presence around her, Diana.

      • Well since one of MY spiritual gifts is tears – I guess we’re a good match. :>)

        I still can’t figure out how to subscribe to comments over here at Patheos. Any clue?

    • michaboyett

      Ha! My husband says making people cry is my spiritual gift. 🙂 Thank you for the mercies. As always, so grateful for your presence around here, Diana.

  • This made me cry. I’ve loved the posts you’ve done about pastors, churches, etc. In a day when many people feel adrift, it is good to read of “good, true home”. 🙂