Moving Days – Newsletter Article for Foothills August 2014

After two years of commuting from Denver, my family and I have this past month, happily become Fort Collins residents.

We love our new home, and can’t wait to explore all the great things about our new town, and we are all thrilled to be able to have dinner together almost every night. We are confident we will love living here, and we are grateful beyond belief.

And yet, a few weeks in, the best way to describe my feelings is: shock. I can’t quite get my brain to accept this as my new reality. It’s all so unfamiliar and I feel clumsy and disoriented. I know I’m not on vacation, but also I don’t quite believe that this is my “real” life. It’s a little of an out-of-body experience.

While, I know rationally and logically that this is a change for the good, that doesn’t lessen my grief. It turns out grief doesn’t care about logic. It only cares about what has been lost, what is gone.

I’ve lived in the Denver metro area for about 17 years. It strikes me that this is not that many years less than Marc’s tenure at Foothills. And so I have been sitting with my feelings and trying to learn what I can about how it will feel for our congregation as a whole community to “move” from Marc as the Senior Minister, and lessons for what eases the transition.

These lessons begin with that feeling of shock. As a community, we may not realize what change has occurred for some time. We will be living in that inbetween, not quite believing this is our “real” life. There’s a kind of euphoria in this space, but also a time-out-of-time, like our life is on a “pause.”

And then, there’s that grief. When I talk to other congregations who have been through the ending of a long-time, beloved minister, they say it took a while before they realized they were grieving. They thought they were operating from that logical space; but in reality they were still processing the loss and change.

In my family’s move, we are learning to slow down, to honor this in-between time, and to remind each other of what has not changed. Going through this together is a great opportunity to strengthen our connection to one another, and to clarify and renew our values and vision for how and who we want to be in the world.

These are our congregation’s best tools through this time of transition, as well: slow down, honor our shock, and listen well to one another, help each other name our grief and tend to it. And, rather than retreating in the face of all this change, we can use our common experience as a way to strengthen our bonds, and to clarify and renew who we are called to be with and for one another and our wider world.

Life continues to unfold in so much possibility, and so let us be good partners in furthering the reach of love. For this is the spirit of our church – now, and always. “None of us alone can save the world – but together, that’s another possibility, waiting.”

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About Rev. Gretchen Haley

Gretchen Haley serves as the Senior Minister of the Foothills Unitarian Church in Fort Collins, CO. She's relentlessly curious about most things, especially the big stuff of theology, the beauty of creation and poetry, the magic of collaboration, and the great joy and often-great-depth of popular (and less popular) television and music. She and her partner of 17 years, Carri, have 2 children, Gracie (10) and Josef (8).
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