Tuesday, August 16, 2011

So the cat is out of the bag....

figuratively speaking, and I am relieved. I have been carrying around the secret of my impending retirement for many months now. It has constrained me in ways I didn't even know until I wrote the letter, informed the board, and then had the letter mailed to the congregation.

The letter arrived in most mailboxes yesterday and I also posted it here and on Facebook. Interesting to be using social media to get the word out---for instant feedback, there's no equal to FB and blog.

Colleagues responded first, with encouragement and thoughtful advice. They mostly are thrilled for me and I suspect they crave the kind of personal time retirement can bring. Ministry gives a distinctive shape to one's life and it doesn't allow for very much personal time. I thought I detected a note of slight envy, as well as the message to not slip off the map while wallowing in the freedom from ministerial duties.

Response from congregants has been slowly coming in and, by and large, they're excited for me and sad for themselves. My friend A warned me yesterday over our lunch not to be surprised if people experience "abandonment issues" and start acting crazy. We'll see how that turns out. I would hope that this healthy bunch of folks would be able to deal just fine.

I do feel sad about leaving them and I feel sad that this news has come on the heels of a tragic death and another impending death in our midst. But there wasn't a better time and I was having a hard time keeping my mouth shut. Still, when I announced it to the board, one fellow said "so, it comes in threes". Maybe that means we're done with loss for awhile.

I find myself checking off things mentally: this time next year I won't go to a board retreat, or plan an adult RE program, or conduct the animal blessing or the water ceremony or... And I won't need to sort out problems like hurt feelings in a congregant or the request to return by a former member who caused difficulty in the past or submit newsletter items.

It's a mixed bag, of course, because I will miss doing many of these things. And yet I won't wake up in the night, either, wondering what the best response is to the disgruntled congregant or the difficult former member. No more deadlines! No more sermon scrambling! No more UUCWI, in just 10 more months.

And that's tough. UUMA guidelines make it clear that former ministers have a duty to the incoming minister to clear out for awhile, give the new person plenty of room to make his/her own connection to the beloved community. I'll have to figure out what to do about some of my connections with the congregation, like Facebook, but generally I respect the guidelines and will be careful not to interfere with the new configuration of leadership.

It's a good thing that I'm moving 200 miles away, by choice. I won't need to do the awkward dance of fobbing off conversations in the grocery store that wander into UUCWI business that I can't share. My job will be to be caring but not involved, not competing with the colleague who is in the process of bonding with this congregation I love so dearly.

10 comments:

LinguistFriend said...

This move is not entirely a surprise, in terms of the mood that you have expressed at times. But I wish you well in making the transition in personal terms. I hope that you have that well scoped out, although I have the impression that you are good at such things. Good luck, Kit.

ms. kitty said...

Thanks, LF.

Robin Edgar said...

"I have been carrying around the secret of my impending retirement for many months now."

Well one did not have to read between the lines very much to catch *that* not so secret "secret" Kit. In fact I thought that you quite openly spoke about a desire to retire soon in some of your posts. I was not the least bit surprised by your letter.

So where are you off too?

ms. kitty said...

I know I'd been hinting at it in an effort to get my congregation to a point where they would be half-expecting it. The date was the only secret.

I'm moving to Astoria, Oregon, where I've wanted to live for a long time.

Robin Edgar said...

Well good luck with the move and everything.

Bringing the cats along?

ms. kitty said...

For sure I'll take Loosy and Lily, but I'm thinking Max would do better if I find him a home here on the island. He's a barn cat at heart and a mouser who would be a valuable asset to a farm family. But I'll miss him---though L & L will not!

Robin Edgar said...

I agree that it is probably best for Max to stay in his established territory. I was actually going to suggest that to you knowing what I know about Max, but I wanted to hear what your plans were first. I guess it's another case of great minds thinking alike. ;-)

ms. kitty said...

Definitely we are on the same page there, Robin!

Mile High Pixie said...

Woohoo! We're all allowed, especially after giving so much to others, to take some time for ourselves. Good on you, Rev. Kit! And you've given them plenty of time to find a new pastor, so that's good of you too. (But promise you wont' stop blogging?!)

ms. kitty said...

I'm hoping to feel a bit more free in the blogging arena, Pixie, since I'm not keeping the secret anymore! Thanks for your kind words.