This morning, after snapping my clerical collar into place and pulling on my Canterbury t-shirt, I put on my CNU Episcopal Chaplain name tag for the last time. Above it I attached my small “Safe Zone” pin. Turns out the weather was cool and rainy enough that I also wore my blue and white CNU sweatshirt on top of everything.
My last day at the prayer station. It was hard to wrap my brain around it this morning, and now that it’s over, I’m still in disbelief.
When I arrived today, I took one load of stuff to the Plaza. I was pleased that it was dry enough to set up outside. After running inside to order a chicken flatbread sandwich for lunch, since I hadn’t brought anything with me, I went to the chapel to get my sign. Before I even got the chairs out of their bags, the raindrops began plopping onto the sign, threatening to smear the ink. I checked my Weather Channel app and saw a big blob of green, yellow, and red approaching the blue dot that indicated my location. Scary looking blob. Promising more than a few drops of rain.
Time to move inside.
I was disappointed to be inside on the last day, but I was glad that I made that decision because a few minutes later I saw students running into the building, soaking wet. Umbrellas and hoods went up as students headed out into the downpour. After picking up my sandwich, I began setting up the chairs in the DSU rotunda, when a senior walked in and greeted me.
“How are your exams going?” I asked him.
“I just finished college,” he answered. He had just emerged from his last final.
I held my hand up, and he gave me an exuberant high five. The look on his face was priceless. Joy, wonder, disbelief, shock, amazement. He told me that last night he had felt a flood of feelings and that it would all take a long time to process. I bet. He asked what was going on with me, and when I told him about my new position, he said, “You’re in transition too.”
Yes. Yes, I am. I guess I feel a little like he does today – lots of feelings.
My Canterbury students surprised me with a gift at lunch – a book they had made of pictures and notes they had written, including one from our student who is studying abroad. Some were handwritten; some were typed. They included our scripture, John 8:32. At first I thought it was a little writing notebook, but when I opened it I saw what they had done and tears formed behind my eyes. I couldn’t read it right then because I knew I'd be too emotional, but later in the afternoon I read through each note and smiled with wet eyes as I read their kind and loving words. It was the best gift they could have given me and will be a book I treasure. I found myself holding it close and finally put it in my bag. The student who gave it to me said that they had all pitched in. My heart was so full - gratitude, humility, sadness, joy, surprise, love. I know they aren't really my students - they are their own wonderful, individual selves, but I can't help thinking of them as my students, and they will always have a special place in my heart.