I mark occasions with words. These are such words, delivered at the small gathering of close friends on Saturday evening all together to mark my moving to Melbourne, beautifully hosted by Prue and her family.
I am so blessed.
I knew if I didn’t write this down I wouldn’t be able to coherently string the thoughts together, let alone the words. It’s been an emotional week; I suspect the next few will be much the same.
I deliberately made this a small gathering, I wanted to be able to see everyone properly, to be able to mark this occasion without fluff and nonsense and the fleeting hellos and goodbyes that come with a larger party.
You’re here because you’ve been a significant part of my journey here in Sydney. But more importantly because I believe you’ll be a significant part of my world still, even though I’m a little further away.
I was talking to Mick yesterday as we mulled over things of faith and church and community, as we always do, and as we talked I wondered aloud, asking “Why on earth am I leaving?” and his reply, sage as always, was “You’re not leaving, you’re just moving away.”
It’s true, I’m putting physical distance between us, but the bigger thing is that our spiritual and emotional distance will be the same as it ever was. Non-existent. And given today’s technology, and heck, even yesterday’s technology (remember telephones?) the gaps really aren’t very wide.
I have far too many thank-yous in my heart than I can give voice to really, but I want to acknowledge some of the particular moments, and by extension, the significant people here because without them I would be so much less the person I am today.
Maree and Richard, thank you first for having us here tonight, and for including me in so many of your family gatherings. You all know how to throw a party, and the centre of it is your incredible gift, and heart for hospitality. I’ve never felt more welcome than I do when I’m here, and I thank you that tonight you’ve done the same for my friends.
Mick, almost 4 years ago, in a tongue in cheek moment, I can’t even remember how, whether it was by SMS, or by twitter or that old fashioned email malarkey, you sent me a line from Solsbury Hill, the Peter Gabriel song… that said “grab your things, I’ve come to take you home…”
That one line changed my life. Or, at least, it started something… and the Upper Room, this place that God, you, and Marg have built has, for the last almost 4 years, done more for me than I am able to acknowledge. I can’t thank you enough for continuing to take us on a journey of this thing called church. I love that you never get stuck on its definition but continue instead to explore how to live out our faith, hope and love (whatever it looks like) authentically. By doing so you’ve inspired and empowered me to do the same wherever I am. I look forward to seeing where that ongoing journey takes you, and us and I pray that I find somewhere equally as inspiring down there in ‘Mexico’.
Pam, I realise that embracing the Upper Room the way I have puts, in some ways, into shadow that which came before. I cannot acknowledge one without the other, nor can I diminish the significance of my time at C3. If not for C3, or for SCA I wouldn’t be here at all. And one of the best things about it still, is you. Thank you for coaching me through some of the biggest challenges I’ve faced, for loving me and looking after me even after I’d long left Oxford Falls. And thank you for transitioning from being my pastor to being a dear friend. I’ll miss you, and look forward to the occasional Sunday night phone call when you’re on your way home from church and your voice drops out as you drive along the Parkway!
Jeff, there are too many moments… from that first when I approached you at Parachute with my knees actually knocking and asked that first question every Kiwi asks before they come to Australia “Are the spiders really as big as they say?” (answer is yes, by the way), to the time when for the first time in years we spoke properly and the walls of another’s making came down. I sat in Berkelouws in the Southern Highlands bawling my eyes out and you had called, and for the first time in a long time I felt safe again. You and Julie put me back together and in the years since I’ve so loved being a part of your world and your new journey as more and more people find themselves in the pages of your book.
Robby and Mirre. I can’t remember when I met you, nor can I even remember when we reconnected through the Upper Room. In some strange way it feels as though there wasn’t ever a time when we weren’t friends. It feels like I’ve always hung out on a Sunday night watching movies, talking all the way through them and eating cashew nuts and chocolate and drinking whatever new beer is in the fridge. It really has only been a couple of years and it feels like a lifetime. Thank you for being more real than anyone and letting me be exactly the same. Thanks for keeping me a bed in your office Robby, so that when I am desperate to come watch a movie in person I know I have a place to sleep.
Prue, I don’t even know where to start. The best way I can describe us is that we’ve walked alongside each other, for years. SO many moments, so many Friday nights with so many amazing people, so many long phone calls while you drive home from work, so many tears, and laughs and so.much.depth. I’m so glad you are tied to Melbourne, because I know it won’t be long before I’m taking you out on a Friday night in Victoria and we’ll be sitting in a bar talking about technology, life, love and all the good things.
Before I get to the hardest acknowledgement of all of them, thank you to Jen, who I see so rarely but about whom I love that we always seem completely pick up exactly where we left off. Cherie who makes me laugh so hard and who makes the place brighter with her bubbly smiley ways, but behind which lives a deeply creative, thoughtful individual. Please don’t stop writing your blog; I totally love to know what you’re thinking, and Mick your quiet presence seems unchanged from when I first met you, and I’m so glad to see that you’ve got more music on the go, don’t lose that. I remember that word I gave you years ago, that your music splits hard wood to allow it once again to catch fire. I think that’s still true.
Kirstin, you are my very first, honest to goodness, best friend. I know that being in Victoria isn’t going to change that. At.All. I can’t wait to see you for the Grand Prix. But strongly suspect I’ll be up here to see you before then!
In any case, I won’t ever forget you praying for me at the end of our second year, unpacking for me that inner knowledge about what I’d be doing come the third year, and sure enough there we were. Back for more college.
I won’t ever forget losing our minds in the middle of the Easter production rehearsal when I got the revelation that the Holy Ghost was called Brendan and that name will now always be accompanied with me giggling out loud, I suspect you’re the same…
I won’t forget all the blood sweat and tears that went into Four on the Floor and the arranging and singing of songs with Jake and Brent and those awful shiny vests and boater hats. But man, what FUN ~ and then Harmonycity later on down the track; Way too much awesome music and I’m so glad we were making it TOGETHER.
I won’t forget you calling me to tell me Jacob was on his way and me making you keep him inside you for a whole weekend, just so that I could meet him on the day he was born, and that he, and you were the best part of the most difficult, challenging period in my life.
I won’t forget holding Lily and being blessed a 2nd time to be called a godmother, and even now, her high pitched “Auntie Dee” and having her launch herself at me is one of my favourite things, ever.
I won’t forget Helen, Guy, and how much she loved us all and what a firecracker she was and how in the few years we knew each other she just, as much as you, included me in the Jackson family, and Guy, thank you for sharing your best friend with me and for abiding by her directive that you aren’t allowed to give me shit. I’m sure it was all you could do to obey that one some times… In any case for both of us to be so loved by Kirstin, makes us so incredibly blessed. Thank you.
There are way more moments than I can acknowledge, 14 years is a long time and they have been an incredible 14 years. Above them all, I can do no more than close by thanking God, the one who is the common thread, the glue, the tie that binds us all and whose love is evident by the love that I feel for, and that I feel from all of you.
Thank you, I love you all so very, very much. And you better bloody come visit me in Melbourne… and soon, I have a spare bed, I shall be expecting you.