There are flowers in a vase on the kitchen table - a collection of bold purple peonies shot through with yellow lilies and an appropriate amount of greenery. The parents and staff bought them for me, along with a lovely gift. I love the flowers. They are full of elegance and energy.
There is a stack of cards next to me on the desk. Some of them don't have names, but instead bear the colorful scrawls of little people who don't write their names just yet. Others hold sweet notes that almost make sense ("you are cut," for example, which I am pretty sure is lacking an "e" and meant for my daughter). The two that make me cry, though? They're from the oldest boys in our sweet mob of children. In some ways I feel like I've seen them change the most. One note is sweet, declaring me the best teacher ever in a tone that the writer would never use out loud. The other is from my friend O, who has outgrown me entirely it sometimes seems, but wrote a note anyway with a school picture attached for good measure.
I came to this parish two weeks before my wedding day. The community here has not only challenged and cherished me, but has loved my skeptical husband, and baptized our first child.
It is an interesting thing to have a vocation in the church. It is something I am still working out, with eager joyfulness on some days and plenty of fear and trembling on others. It's something that could not have found me without this place to draw it out, to shape me into someone who could hold it, and to hold me when life knocked me flat. St. Paul's has been the catalyst for my vocation, and its children have given that vocation a soul.
So I'm out of the nest. There is a poem by Philip Booth that Mother Melissa read as part of her sermon at J's baptism, and that I read just yesterday at my god-daughter's baptism. It is a poem about warm love and cold water, and a good one for me to ponder as I take all the love my dear parish community has given me and begin to swim.