All of the goodbyes on May 7 were totally unexpected. I still have ten days left!, I kept thinking…in denial that I was leaving. But from that day on, I was having to say goodbye to people every single day. You see, part of why leaving was so hard is because I didn’t work just in an office with 5 or 10 other people. Instead, I had to say goodbye to hundreds.
I was right to think about the ten days I had left because my work at Luther Place was not quite finished. In addition to training people, wrapping up my current projects, preparing Bethany’s Women of Praise for a big concert and going through the stress of concert night…I had one other (GIANT) piece of unfinished business – one more mural to paint.
In September/October of 2009, when plans were in place for me to paint my first-ever mural, it was already viewed as one of eventually three door murals. St. Francis was unveiled in October 2009, MLK Jr. was unveiled in January 2011, and Dorothy Day was patiently waiting for her turn. Talk about a way to go out!! My final Sunday at Luther Place – May 15 – was Saint Dorothy’s unveiling (click here to see more photos of the Dorothy mural). I finished her (with last minute help from my roommate) at 5pm on Saturday night, just in time for a last evening at Asylum with friends.
This mural was particularly fun to work on (in spite of the stress). Something about it was different from the other two…my parents seem to think it’s the best one yet. I’m not sure it’s my favorite necessarily. It took me a long time to find the inspiration to work on her. I suppose I was finally inspired by the fact that I was LEAVING in two weeks and HAD to finish! The sketch of the mural actually came to me when I was home sick with a fever (conveniently during Holy Week) in April. It was really all quite a whirlwind, but somehow, all loose ends were tied, and that Sunday’s service was beautiful. It was a joint worship service, combining the 9am contemporary crowd with the 11am traditional crowd. For once, the 11am choir didn’t have to sit together up front, so for my final Sunday, I enjoyed the chance to spend the entire service sitting with friends. I held it together pretty well through the service. We blessed the mural to kick things off, and then I received a blessing (along with 4 other people who were leaving) at the end of the service. While all the goodbyes are exhausting, I did my best to appreciate every moment. That night, the staff enjoyed a crab feast at Matt Zemanick’s house. What a lovely opportunity to spend some final moments with staff…NOT working!
Two more days of work, and that was it. Just short of three years at Luther Place, over. It’s funny how life takes you in unexpected directions. Ever since I was a kid, I envisioned myself going to college, then grad school right away, then getting married right after grad school. But senior year of college, I realized that I wasn’t ready for grad school. I applied to Lutheran Volunteer Corps as a backup plan, though it occurred to me that I didn’t really have a front plan. So LVC became The Plan, and I would go to grad school the year after. As I interviewed with 3 placements, I was so excited for my top choice – an art studio that works with homeless youth in Seattle. My boyfriend at the time and I were looking forward to moving to Seattle for the next chapter of our life together! Instead, LVC gave me my second choice – the Steinbruck Center for Urban Studies in DC. I was unhappy. I didn’t want to be in DC! I considered not accepting, but what was I going to do instead? So I went, and I discovered that sometimes, other people know what’s best for you more than you do. LVC saw my potential and Luther Place’s need and thought we would be a good fit. Looking back, I can’t imagine myself in any other place. Grad school wasn’t in the cards for two more years for me…a painful thought – a disappointment to my own expectations of myself. But again, Luther Place was where I needed to be. Now that the door to grad school has finally opened, I’m terrified to walk through it. But I trust once again that there is some kind of plan for me. So, while the grief of leaving sets in and tugs at me in all sorts of ways, hopefulness for what’s coming next rises.