Yesterday evening, as the sun had almost disappeared, I packed up the last of the candles from a Blue Christmas service. It felt like something was ending. There was a tinge of sadness. After seven years of conducting this service annually for both the towns to which I minister, this would be the last one for the foreseeable future. Next year, I will be leaving my ministry placement to pursue further study and to develop Deep Water Dwelling further.
Over the last few months, there have been a few "lasts", aspects of my ministry that I won't be involved in again. None had brought the same feelings that arose as I put the blue baubles in the box, not sure if they would be used next year. Fortunately, the drive from Augusta home is long enough to reflect and wind down before launching back into family life.
During the service, I spoke about grief, loss and suffering. The only reason we experience grief and loss is because we loved something. As I often say at funerals, "To love someone, is to risk the pain of parting". And so, I pondered what it was I loved about this simple, reflective service that had caused this sense of loss. It wasn't the people. Not because I don't love them, but because I will continue to see them for another four months. I certainly won't miss the crazy lead up to Christmas that is part of a minister's life.
It is more about the intent of this service. When I plan Blue Christmas, there is a lot of thought into creating a safe, sacred space where people can be authentic. It is about peeling back the layers that have been plastered over the Gospel message to reveal the deep core of the story. It is gentle. It is open. It is real. That's what I love about conducting this service and that is what I will miss. The grief experienced has shown me a need within myself to create spaces that are authentic, simple and real.