The room as it will look upon my moving out is starting to appear. Yesterday I had the state inspection done on the parochial vicar car, had it washed and filled the tank before turning over the keys to my successor. The move is starting to become very real. Though I have been expecting these moments for over a year, it still seems like a surprise.
I guess it has to do with the way I conceive the parish in the story of my life. When I came here it was like a landing. After the many steps and moves of my six years in the formation program, I had arrived. Here it was, my first assignment. The parish then took me into its embrace; the schedules of days and the cycles of seasons, the support and prayer of the people, the headaches, the fights, and the interior trials. The linear timeline of the formation program (postulancy, novitiate, temporary profession and its renewals, diaconate, priesthood) gave way to the cyclical time of the parish. I had landed. Whether I was happy or struggling, joyful or stressed, devout or in a rut, it was home and I could breathe with some new kind of peace.
Now I'm going back to Boston and back to school, into something very like the condition I was in before coming here to the parish. I was ten semesters at the former Weston Jesuit School of Theology before my first assignment, and now I return to the same school's successor institution, the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. Writing this out makes me realize that jarring nature of the transition: the parish, which was a landing and an arrival for me up until now, will now become for me an interlude between two academic lives in Boston. Not that this cheapens anything about my experience and the graces of the past three years, but it changes their nature in my imagination, in how I understand and narrate to myself the story of my desire to convert to Christianity.