Farewell parties; amazing foods, tears of appreciation; deep feelings; that sense of loss and joy simultaneously; departures and arrivals; the gift of the most amazing people ever to pastor and enjoy and know and experience; significant conversations; meals with friends; crazy text messages that communicate love and joy– these are a few of my favorite things.
Rolling on floor and laughing with my grandchildren, Josie, Theo and Antonia; hearing 3.5 year old Antonia say “Aunt Gabri, would you help me find Poppou? I want him to read me a story;” reading aloud from Stuart Little — that illustrious and most unique of children to be born to a human couple(!), and from Winnie the Pooh– with AA Milne’s long, wonderfully cumbersome sentences, to Antonia; Long, late-night conversations; playing long, joyful, competitive rounds of Euchre, telephone charades, and Articulate; Amazing meals; Hugs; Space; the sea air; Breathing; Hiking from Seaside to Indian Beach; walks along the beach; Holding little hands; The gift of conversations with my children, my brothers, Roger and John, and their wonderful wives, Dorothy and Marijo, my niece and nephew, Katie and Neal; running and jumping into the wonderfully, cold surf with Neal, Collin, and Roger; these are a few of my favorite things.
A fire on the beach; roasting hot dogs and eating them with just that hint of crunch from the sand; telling stories; singing together; Broiled, delicate salmon with maple-Dijon mustard sauce; many big, green salads; Prayer; quiet moments; the gift of family; these are a few of my favorite things.
Spiritual conversations; the gift of reading the Scriptures; hot, melted, dark chocolate fondue with fresh fruit, frozen bananas and cake to dip; smoked sweet potatoes; overhearing Anna and her sisters sharing their life stories; laughter; tears; authenticity; praying together; the sound of rain on the roof; these are a few of my favorite things.
Day after day after day with my family; laughing so hard tears fell; talking with Antonia as we walked the promenade to visit the seaside aquarium; feeding the harbor seals raw fish– she was on my shoulders so I handed her the headless fish, she’d joyfully toss it to the happy, barking seal, and then wipe her hand in my hair(!); Gabrielle’s famous Zucchini Lasagne; these are a few of my favorite things.
Rare, beautiful life moments punctuated by prayer, tears and laughter. Moments relished. Lived. Experienced. They all are my favorite things, for they are all a part of this life.
My sister-in-law Dorothy told me more than once, “Brian, you are looking great.” There is something about the gift of sabbatical to the soul, even the first week. The planning has been concluded, and now, I can just enjoy the journey.