Because pioneering draws me, I have experience in leaving. Over the years, I have found remembering this one thing helpful. When I make a change, all people connected to my change also have to make changes, changes they did not initiate.

For me, leaving usually begins, long before the grind, with an inviting glimpse as fleeting as a butterfly passing by. Letting go, when others leave, can be just as painstaking and elusive.

Whether leaving or letting go, each person involved chooses how to respond. We can hold on until we smother any hope of our good memories living on, or we can welcome changes that are inevitable.

Jesus drew a crowd, was available to individual needs and then walked away to replenish or go to the next town. When we fail to answer the call to leave, we not only risk imploding, but also risk inhibiting others’ and our own transformation.

Going through claustrophobic and freeing reactions to leaving has educated me in the value of blessing those who choose to go elsewhere. If we send others out well, they carry our love with them to the next place. In that way, we offer ongoing blessings that reach far beyond our immediate casings.

Leaving can be hard. I once worked with a clergyman who regularly said, “I want to be the pastor who runs the most people off.” In other words, take what you need from this time and place and then go out and give what only you can give to the world. Ah, freedom!

Letting people go is something that church does well. The people and money generously flow, both in and out. That church will not flail around in a dead sea any time soon.

Leaving arouses emotions including uncertainty, loss and joy. The unknown ignites conflicting feelings around an ongoing butterfly effect that can go either way, depending on each person’s response.

Obviously, there is loss in leaving our known chrysalides but too, we experience joy in moving toward fluttering possibilities. We may hesitate in our next short steps, but we can surely offer grace to others, as we trust the long, protective wings of Spirit’s love.

Sacred Ruminations*

What has made leaving joyful or pain-filled for you?

Can you think of people who surrounded you with blessings, as you left a place? What did they do or say? How do you see their love living on, in your life?

Through the years, in your choices to leave, have you noticed a pattern or calling?