The parsonage home my daughter and family lived in for nearly a dozen years sits empty, awaiting new residents. During their long process of sorting and packing, I thought often about our last parsonage move, a decade ago. At the time, I wrote:
Hold your blessings loosely, I’ve learned. Letting them go doesn’t hurt so much if your fingers don’t have to be pried away.
Today I’m releasing a house, surprised to discover I’d held it more tightly than I thought.
I’ll miss so much about the place the Preacher and I have called home for almost seventeen years. That sticky cupboard door that brays like a donkey. The way the yard wakes up in spring – squirrels garlanding the trees, their furry souls spinny under the feeble sun. Sparrows wheeling and dealing real estate with the swallows. Moses the cat, birdwatching at the window. (He’ll do that elsewhere from now on. Our new place doesn’t ‘do’ cats.)
No more pink sunrises framed by my kitchen window. No more of these neighbours’ cheery hello’s following winter’s long silence. No maple limbs dancing outside my office window, or glistening rivulets of melting snow in my pocket gardens – our oldest grandbean’s favorite play-place…
“Isn’t the snow pretty, Benjamin?” his mother asks at first snowfall, evoking a sorrowful, “No Mama, snow not purty. Dirt purty.”
Every room, every corner. Now that I’ve threatened to let it go, this old parsonage is nudging me to remember what it’s meant to me. As I pack, it’s unpacking. Serving up its warmest memories, pouring them over my heart like warmed honey. Sticky, hard to let go.
Our nine-foot oak table – too long for the new place – is lavishly set with those memories. Sunbeams splashing over schoolbooks, drawing halos above two blonde heads as home-school began each morning. Women friends and I, laughing until we cried over something someone said during Bible study.
My elderly parents, their white heads bowed in prayer. African children who asked, when I served spaghetti, why I served them white worms. A tiny grandbean on a blanket in the middle of the table – a centerpiece from God’s hand. And one large man, much loved, saying grace over holiday turkeys, pizza, roast potatoes, even my burnt offerings.
Too many children in and out – our two especially. Too many nights of wakeful waiting for them to come home. Too many friends, too many cups of tea, too many long company dinners. Too many singsongs around the old piano. Too many of all those things to count.
This house speaks softly these days, whispering memories, resisting every box I tape and label. I hear the old dog’s toenails tapping in the hall – but Mindy’s been gone a year now. Hamsters skittering around in balls. Skysweeper’s trills – I found that injured Bohemian waxwing on the alley behind this house, where I’ve walked and prayed away my cares and pounds for almost two decades.
I cry at night, sometimes.
Then I remember. Every time we’ve moved, I’ve gone through this. Survived it. Every time.
God, remind me again that you are our only permanent dwelling place. That we’re just pilgrims, passin’ through. And that delightful newness waits up ahead. Until then Lord, hold me as I let go.
If you’re letting go of anything dear – a home, a relationship, a dream, a life – trust God. He’ll be your immoveable rock, your heart’s home, your maker of all things new, and above all, your compassionate Comforter.