Technically my internship is now over. Officially it goes until Tuesday. But the next two days will be spent packing and cleaning and moving, and not doing any pastoral related tasks. My final services were this weekend, I preached my final sermon, and they had a service of Godspeed and a farewell reception for me. It was touching and amazing and great and exhausting all at the same time. People showed so much support and appreciation for the work that I have done during my internship, even people that I didn't think knew that I was there. I mean, I shook their hands as they left church every weekend, and I said "Hello," occasionally, but they never let on that they appreciated me as much as they said they did this weekend.
It was a tough weekend. I had to preach the sermon three times. I focused on the how Jesus was changed through his relationship and interaction with the Canaanite woman. And then I connected that to how I was changed through my relationship with the congregation. Saturday evening as I was preaching it I needed about four kleenexes to make it through, and even then it was a struggle. At the service of Godspeed at the end of that service, Supervising even got choked up, and he's usually pretty calm and collected. So that made me even worse! The next two times weren't so bad, but the contemporary service on Sunday morning, which is the service a lot of people I have gotten pretty close to attend, was tough. I'd be doing fine, until I made eye contact with someone who was crying and then it would be tough to maintain composure. I received applause at two of the three services. One of the services seems to be populated by our "Old Guard," where change is bad, they sit in their same pews, and they don't clap at church. But they sure expressed their appreciation afterwards.
I know there were times when I said I was ready for my internship to end. And I know that the countdown I kept may have made it seem like I was looking forward to the end. Part of me definitely was. But now that the end is happening, I don't want it to. I want to stay and continue these relationships that I've started. I want to watch the kids grow up and see the high schoolers go off to college and pursue their callings. I want to celebrate the milestones with these families. I want to see the babies get baptized and I want to see the young kids take their first communions and then get confirmed. I want to be there for these people in their struggles and their joys. I love these people more than I thought possible. Even Tom, who I thought was the bane of my existence. Even he will be missed.
I didn't know it would be this hard. Even as the end grew closer, I was oblivious to just how attached I've become, really. I thought I'd pack up and move out and go back to my friends at school and that would be that. But it's not that easy. It feels like that when I leave, a substantial part of my self will still be here. While I'm excited for this next step in the journey, to integrate what I've learned here on internship and to begin the process of seeking a first call, it hurts to think about leaving this part of my life behind.
And part of me is reluctant to do that, which is why it has been such a process for me to pack and clean. I'm behind what I could have done and should have done already. Truthfully, I don't have that much stuff and there's no reason why I'm not packed up already. But I am a natural born procrastinator, and it's hard to get motivated when part of me believes that if I just don't pack, then I just won't have to move and that means that this experience really isn't coming to an end. Denial is a very effective defense mechanism. I utilize it quite often.
Anyway, I should get to bed, even though I know sleep will be slow in coming tonight. Too many emotions and thoughts and reminders rolling around in my head. Too many things need to be done. But it's better that I lay in bed and do that thinking, just in case I nod off to sleep, than sit at a computer and do that thinking while I stimulate my brain by doing a crossword or reading an article or playing some random game.
So, I hope you've enjoyed reading about my adventures on internship. They have been amazing and grueling and awesome and exhausting and invigorating and crazy and life-altering. Thanks for listening, for sharing encouragement and advice, and for walking with me on the journey. Now I'm approaching the door to another part of this crazy adventure. I've heard rumors what it's like on the other side, but I've never experienced it for myself. I'm getting ready to open the door and go on in. You're welcome to come along for the ride!!!