6th Sunday of Easter Reflection by Melissa Dan

“Moving is exciting. Change is good. But I feel a little like a refugee saying goodbye to all the old familiar places before I’m going to be shipped out. Somehow, a neighborhood where you’ve worked, run, eaten many lunches (hurried or otherwise), dashed in and dashed out, talked to friends and said many prayers feels like hallowed ground.”— Rick Hamlin

We’re moving. And as the months have turned to weeks and soon days, before we make the trek to New York, I cannot stop feeling like I am a Saint Clement 8th grader - embarking on a graduation of sorts. In the weeks before graduation, the 8th graders suddenly become almost enlightened. There are many “lasts.” The last pep rally.  The last Christmas concert. The last all school Mass. The final moments walking through the hallways as a student as they tearfully say goodbye to the teachers who’ve watched them grow for the past ten years.

I am definitely feeling nostalgic and noticing many lasts. And like the quote above, I feel like I am leaving hallowed ground…. For the past six years, Saint Clement School and Church has wrapped their arms around me and my family.  I want to thank you.  It’s hard to say thank you and goodbye to a school and students I have loved deeply for the past six years.

And as I review the portion of John’s Gospel that make up Jesus’ long farewell, I am reminded that, as always, God’s presence will overcome all of my anxiety.  Focusing on the present and the gifts that are in each moment—rather than stuck too much in the past or future—feels like the world is suddenly in 3D for me and I am enlightened. The present and God’s constant presence holds the seeds of love and hope and truth.  As this gospel tells us - we will not be shaped by Jesus’ absence but always by God’s strong presence. It reminds us that Jesus remains with us through the Holy Spirit, who teaches us everything we need to know, and is our source of peace.

So as I begin to journey through the last days as principal at Saint Clement School, the words of one of my favorite authors comes to mind. 

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road.
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.

Allons! We must not stop here.
However sweet these laid up stores, however convenient this dwelling, we cannot remain here.
However welcome the hospitality that surrounds us we are permitted to receive it but a little while.

Let the paper remain on the desk unwritten, and the book on the shelf unopen’d!
Let the tools remain in the workshop! Let the money remain unearn’d!
Let the school stand! Mind not the cry of the teacher!
Let the preacher preach in his pulpit!

Camerado, I give you my hand!
I give you my love more precious than money,
Will you give me yourself? Will you come travel with me?
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?

— Walt Whitman Excerpted from “Song of the Open Road”

As we make new relationships in New York, I will keep the words that one of the students said to me last week close to my heart, “Ms. Dan, I’ll always remember you and I know you’ll come back and visit.”  And yet, even if I won’t be seeing the children each day next year, they will always be in my heart and we shall “stick by” each other as long as we live.