As I clean my room and pack my bags, my mind keeps going to the final episode of season 8 of Scrubs, one of my favorite comedies. (Yes, I imagine much of my life as if it were parallel to my go-to tv shows.) Am I being dramatic? Maybe. But I’m a little okay with that. In my short 25 years, these next couple days will certainly be some of the most memorable as they fly by in a whirl of transition. Below is the link to the final few minutes of this particular Scrubs episode. I hope that those of you who aren’t Scrubs fans will still be able to understand what J.D., the main character, is experiencing as he spends his last few minutes as a doctor at Sacred Heart Hospital. Also, there are some lines that may seem inappropriate or rude. But hey, sometimes jokes just take on a bit of rudeness, especially inside jokes. And that’s usually how it works, isn’t it? There’s all those people we’re saying goodbye to, and then one or two of them just say the most awkward, ridiculous thing. But hey, that’s what keeps life exciting. For the record, as I identify in some ways with what J.D. is feeling, I like to imagine Dr. Cox as Doug.
As I have with some of my posts throughout the year, I’m offering a soundtrack for this, the last post from Northern Ireland:
First, it’s The Call by Regina Spektor
And second, it’s Goodbye by Plankeye
My mom had a little Chinese Proverb sitting in our kitchen window sill for years. It may still be there for all I know. It said, “Life is a piece of paper on which every passerby leaves a mark.” I hope that I’ve marked on the page of those folks with whom I’ve spent time, shared a meal, and walked beside…because I know that many of them have taken a sharpie and scribbled all over my piece of paper.
These photos are proof of the first trans-Atlantic livestream of First Presbyterian Church’s worship.
Yep, that’s John Smith and Tom Sizemore in my flat on Bathgate Dr. watching John Maddux’s solo. It was great to be sitting with both those fellas, looking at my home church, hearing the hymns, feeling very much a part of that service…from thousands of miles away. A special thanks to all the folks at FPC Greeneville who made that moment happen.
As I watched that service and spent the day with Tom and John, I couldn’t help but think, “In just a couple weeks I’ll be back at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains. And between now and then, there’s still work to be done, meals to share, bags to pack, a flat to clean.” In the past, at times of transition, I’ve always been able to say, “This isn’t goodbye, it’s see you later.” But that isn’t going to be true in most cases this time. Goodbye will probably mean goodbye.
That’s why, instead of a lot of ‘goodbyes’, I’m offering a ‘Thank-you!’ to all those those folks who have been such a pivotal part of this year:
NORN IRON (PeacePlayers)
To Joanne: You may be one of my favorite people of all time.
To Darryl “Dazz”: Thank you for appreciating my attempts at Belfast talk. And for being the first person to call me Patsy.
To Tony: You’re ridiculous. And darn it, I love ya for it.
To Meghan: Thanks for being the head coach for my first Twinning, for the whistle, for the ‘swag’, and for initiating a conversation that revealed to me that you saw me as having something more to offer.
To Mairead: Hope that ankle gets better so we can one day play a match together. I want to see those skills.
To Kate: You make Wisconsin cool.
To Alberto: It was a pleasure. Don’t miss the Belfast weather too much when you go back to Spain.
To Gareth: I want to boss people around one day…and I want to do it like you do. Thanks for the opportunities.
NORN IRON (Dundonald Methodist Church)
To the youth: Thanks for accepting this Yank.
To the DFCI volunteers: Y’all are great! There is great work being done in that community and it all starts with the efforts of each of you. Keep it up.
To Graham: Thanks for that day at the Folk and Transport Museum. So glad I didn’t leave Northern Ireland without seeing that place.
To Jim and Dorothy: Thank you for the times at your home. Take care of that dog. It’s pretty adorable, even when it had that satellite dish on its head.
To Cheryl and Pauline: Thanks for the laughter at either the Martins’ or Spratts’! And Cheryl…behave yourself.
To Gareth and Tom, my prayer partners: Thank you for the honest conversations, the laughs, and the support. Gareth, thanks for putting up with my Mac on several occasions. And to Jill and Charlie: Looking forward to seeing you soon! Tom, you make the best Ulster fries.
To Paul: Thanks for inspiring me to want to live in New Zealand. Your faith and compassion for people is unreal, my friend.
To Maureen and Eddie: Thanks for the Thursday evenings. Mo, thank you for being such a great teacher and leader for those boys.
To Ken: I needed that pint more than you know. Thank you.
To Heather: Wow. You are one hell of a woman, and your commitment to what you do is truly an inspiration.
To Lynne: What laughs we had! Keep up the work you’re doing, basically all over Belfast. It’s making such a difference. Sorry I didn’t stay to be your lobster.
To Jeff and Gillian: Thanks for always being that extra support for YAVs. Jeff, if you pay for my summer there, I’ll happily go west on a recruiting mission. For the glory of God, of course.
To Rebecca, Jamie, Luke and Andy: Y’all are great. You always have a place to stay in ol’ ‘Merica.
To Colin and Claire: Thank you so much for the hospitality and the laughs in Scotland.
To Kathryn and Dave: If you two don’t know that I love you both deeply by now, you never will. That guest room is mine for good, right?
To Simon and Gayle: Thank you for the rugby games, the concert, the jumper, the constant generosity, the honor of carrying Jacob when he was christened, and for being my big brother and sister. I love you both.
To Wilma: Thanks for being my Dundonald Mum and for giving the tightest hugs.
To David and Vera: Every Wednesday night with you two was a blessing and true gift. Thank you for the book that will soon be purchased. And David, I’m holding you to that ordination deal.
To David, Sally, Owain, and Ciaran: Thank you for the guidance, for putting up with all my questions, and for the laughs. Boys, Cyprus is an island.
To Anne and Clem: Ehh, I couldn’t really be bothered writing you anything. Ha! You know I love you both. (That’s right, Clem. I said it.) Thanks for being a sanctuary.
To the PC(USA): Thank you for continuing to invest in this program. It influences more lives than you can imagine.
To Essie, Bridgette, and Shannon: The work you three have done is changing so much in so many places. You’re the brains of this operation. Thank you for all you do for us. Sincerely.
To the YAV Community: Yep, we badasses.
To Ellison, Erin, Karl, Kendra, Liz, Christina, and Zoe: We went through a lot together. I guess there’s nothing to say other than, “Thanks for being my family.”
To Elaine: I’m not sure what YAVs are supposed to expect from their site coordinator’s spouse, but you fulfilled that duty and then some! Thank you for the meals, the cooking lessons, and for making fun of Ellison’s attempts at saying, “How” in a Belfast accent. And your smile is contagious.
To Doug: I knew on March 17, 2011 that I was going to be in Northern Ireland for a year. That’s your fault. Thanks for being such an irreplaceable teacher, listener, and friend.
ALSO…A big thank you to Cafe Smart. As I wrote most of this, I was sitting on one of your sofas upstairs. I’ll miss frequenting your “wee place on the corner.”
ALSO ALSO…to the KCC folks, y’all are great! No wonder Ellison loved it out there.
To First Presbyterian Church, Greeneville, TN: Thank you for the support that flowed in multiple ways. You’re my original church family. All of this started with you.
To Alan: Without Work Camps in my life, this year wouldn’t have happened.
To First Presbyterian Church, Auburn, AL: To such a diverse, vibrant community, thank you for challenging me, for molding me, and for giving me keys to that church bus. Just kidding. But the freedom to be creative and to work alongside Perrin and the rest of the staff to materialize passions was never appreciated enough. So thank you. And to the FPCA staff: Y’all are awesome!
To Rachel and Lisa: You both make me so glad our denomination ordains women. Where the hell would I be without you two?
To Terry and Mary: Thank you for all the blog comments and the mail. They were always treasured.
To Dr. Webb: The emails meant so much.
To Sue: You are one of my favorite ladies, in case you didn’t know that.
To Wilbur: I haven’t had biscuits and gravy in a year. Now what are we going to do about that, friend?
To Betsy and Michael: I should have gotten college credit for all that I learned at your dinner table.
To the youth and their families: Can’t wait to see all of you soon!
To Tom, John, Jessie, William, and the Bethel group: Had a blast seeing y’all in Belfast!
To the Harley family friends: Looking forward to seeing y’all soon in Greeneville! Thanks for keeping Pam and Randy out of trouble for a year.
To my Auburn boys and the one Bama boy, and y’all know who you are: (Insert clever and perhaps inappropriate comments that translate to ‘thanks.’)
To Allison: What are you doing in two weeks?
To Greg and Patrick: Thanks for visiting and for being lifelong friends and brothers. The next one’s on me.
To Mom and Dad: I love you. For everything, thank you.
The last night the YAVs were together at Doug’s home, he shared this Blessing with us. I offer it as a Closing:
Mighty God, Father of all,
Compassionate God, Mother of all,
Bless every person I have met,
every face I have seen,
every voice I have heard,
especially those most dear;
Bless every street I have known,
every home I have entered,
Bless every sight I have seen,
every sound I have heard,
every person whose life I have touched
and been touched by.
In some mysterious way
these have all fashioned my life;
All that I am,
I have received.
What I am still becoming,
all of these help determine.
Great God, bless this part of your world,
these members of your family, and bless
the experiences which have been part of
(adapted from a blessing by John J Morris, SJ, founder of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.)
I would say, “The end,” but in the words of Gracie Allen, “Never put a period where God puts a comma.”