Cindy Davidson, Ministerial Intern
The time to close the ministerial internship chapter of my life is fast approaching! And, while I am happy to be moving on in my journey, I confess saying “Good-bye” isn’t something I’ve been looking forward to. I’d much prefer a “So long for now! See you out there in the big wide UU world!”
I’ve had plenty of time to think about and anticipate the good-byes that come with the ministerial life. Before even arriving here, I had written and preached in our preaching class the “Sermon for the Sunday after the Minister announces their resignation.” Coincidentally, my own home minister had just announced his resignation the week before that class met and I had ALL the feelings – as a congregant and as someone envisioning being in his shoes someday. My situation now, and yours, is a bit different since I’ve had a well-defined term of service here -- there’s no surprise for us in my leave-taking! But, the challenges of disconnecting in a healthy and life-affirming way remain.
While I leave with such a sense of gratification from our time spent together as well as joy and excitement about the road ahead, I feel some sadness now and expect there’s sorrow ahead knowing you will no longer be a regular presence in my life. I’ll miss you just as some of you have told me you’ll miss me. Sometimes a leave-taking can trigger feelings we may have about earlier losses in our lives, and we may not even realize this is going on. “Breaking up is hard to do,” as the song says…. even in the context of our relationship of only two years. I know I’ll be wrestling with some of those feelings and thoughts, and perhaps you will have those moments, too. After all, we’ve become accustomed to each other’s ways, worked through any difficulties or annoyances, rallied around shared passions and visions, and supported each other in times of difficulties and joys. Let us each be gentle with ourselves and cherish the memories.
Best practices and guidelines for UU interns serving congregations is to make a “clean break" at the internship's end. The UUA's Internship Manual has this to say:
"In part because interns and members of the congregation need to encounter the emotions associated with saying good-bye, it is customary for the intern not to maintain any contact with members of the teaching site for at least a year.Soon after my last service with you, this Sunday, I will be closing down my CUUC email account, “unfriending” Facebook contacts, and exiting the CUUC Forum Facebook group. Of course, should we have a chance encounter in our daily walks of life, greetings and light conversation are quite appropriate!
Ministry is fundamentally about service to a congregation or a community-based entity. When an intern has the opportunity to cope successfully with the grief that is a part of leaving, it enables them to gain that understanding of ministry as service. The other reason for making a clean break is that any incoming intern deserves to be welcomed by a congregation or constituency that is not still engaged in a relationship with a former intern, along with all the feelings and loyalties that might accompany that relationship."
I want to thank you wholeheartedly for being such a welcoming and supportive teaching congregation. This has been an invaluable opportunity for me to wrestle with big and formative questions: Who am I as a minister? What are my strengths, weaknesses, and growing edges? What truly feeds me? How might I best minister to the needs of this community and the world? Working with you – staff, leadership, and congregants – and observing all aspects of congregational life, including the close-up and behind the scenes life of the parish minister, has been such a rich and rewarding experience. I am better for having spent this time with you.
With gratitude and love for the many ways you continue to be a blessing in this world,