As I continue in my transitional moment, most of the evening stuff has come to an end. All of my couples are married, my catechumens initiated. I have terminated with those folks with whom I had been meeting for spiritual direction. The Parish Council and its committees are in summer recess.
And so I find myself at six or six-thirty these days, looking out upon empty evenings for the first time in years. It's a little jarring. I've started to walk the parish boundaries during this time, trying to simply pray in gratitude for the faith and goodness of the people. There's an emptiness, a sort of grief in it, a little death as everything quiets down to silence. But silence is always an invitation to contemplation, and I try to see my retreat from full-time ministry in this light. To get reacquainted with the emptiness and silence at the Heart of it all. As I am called to move on, may I be grateful for what has been and be able to let go in peace.
[Contemplation is] a terrible breaking and burning of idols, a purification of the sanctuary, so that no graven thing may occupy the place that God has commanded be left empty: the center, the existential altar which simply "is." (Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation, 13)