Welcome to the em space, a staff writer's commentary page with observations about life experiences in Logan County and beyond. Thank you for visiting.

- Mary Krallmann

Moving on

Earlier this month the pastor of the church I attend announced that he and his family will be moving to southern Illinois, where he will be the pastor of another congregation.

It wasn't really a surprise, because we found out before Christmas that this was a possibility. In a sense, a move for them has been a future prospect for as long as they’re made their home in this area. Pastors do transfer from place to place.

Still it wasn't easy to receive the news of the decision, just as it was difficult for him to announce it.

The subdued aftermath of Christmas — with bills, tax forms and winter routines — suddenly shifted, and life changed to fit January's identity as a time of transition.

The Roman god Janus, for whom January was named, is pictured with two faces, one looking backward and the other looking forward. Sometimes we think the view is better in one direction or the other, but there's no question about which way we'll be going.

Many of my encounters with January transitions have been difficult. Going back to school is a standard part of the month, but in the years when that change meant leaving home and family for extended periods, I thought the January goodbyes were some of the hardest, with dark, cold weeks of projects and papers ahead before a break in the weather or the schedule. Then, my first year of full-time employment included an abrupt reassignment at the beginning of the January.

On the other hand, it was in January that my parents moved to the place that became my first home, and my favorite job change happened in the first month of the year.

The upcoming move for the pastor's family reminded me of the transitions in my own life, because my father's work also included moving to several new locations. My schooling produced more moves and more goodbyes. The changes were not as numerous as some people experience, but the fact that I haven't always lived in the same area is a basic part of who I am.

Sometimes I thought it was sad to keep leaving when other people didn’t have to go through that. I wanted the emotional upheavals to end. In some cases I just wanted to be on the other side of the transitions without crossing the bridge first. Sometimes I didn’t even wish to make the change, but there was no turning back.

After an especially varied period when I lived at a dozen different addresses in five states in a little more than four years, I was ready for the packing and moving chores to come around less often, but when more stability of place returned, I found out I wasn't completely comfortable with that either. As people I knew moved on to other jobs and homes, I felt wistful. I didn't want to be the one who was left behind while others had an adventure ahead.

I felt the inner conflict again with the news of this move for the pastor's family. I remembered the initial excitement about new places, tempered by the uncertainties and an awareness of the partings that the change will bring. I remembered the work and the weariness of moving, the transformations of former homes into curiously spacious emptiness and of unfamiliar houses into homes with familiar furniture. I remembered warm farewells and welcomes.

I've felt the sadness on both sides, for those who leave and those who are left behind. With each farewell, I revisit past goodbyes and have a foretaste of those I've yet to experience. Practice doesn’t necessarily make it easier, but there's comfort in knowing I've traveled that road before.

I will always be a wayfarer to some extent, thanks to an afternoon when my family drove away from a rural setting somewhat like the place where the pastor's family is going.

When we left our empty house behind, I was 10, and I had lived at that place all my life. There were old cottonwoods and newer evergreens, pasture and garden space, parking lot and playground. There were two houses, a cemetery, a school and a church.

Slowly, we drove west on the gravel road to the corner, then north. As we doubled back to the east on our way to the world beyond, I knew there was one more glimpse of the place that had always been home. I saw the tops of the red brick steeples, and my mother quietly handed me a kleenex as the Marysville church disappeared behind the hill for the last time.

[Mary Krallmann]



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