I’ve got something to tell you. Here’s how I’ve been telling our community of beloveds as I meet them at our First Parish breakfast or when walking up Moody Street or sitting on a park bench in the Commons.
“Hey Randy,” I said earlier this month, “I just want to let you know that I am leaving Chaplains on the Way. Justi and Jill will still be here, and I’ll be around in the fall for my job at First Parish. But I need to take some time for myself and my family, so I won’t be here in the same way. “
My intention is to present this news casually, so that people can react however they need to without worrying about my own sadness in leaving.
And for the most part, everyone seems to feel okay about it. They wish me well and tell me I’ll be missed. Many people have been gracious in sharing how our relationship made a difference to them. Lester saluted me, as he did from the middle aisle during my ordination! Mary Anne cried and we hugged for longer than usual. Only one person said what I’ve been thinking for ten years: “Becky, I just never thought you would leave.”
These last ten years at Chaplains on the Way has grown and blessed me in ways I can only begin to explain. The stories I’ve heard are as precious as the people who risked trusting me with them. The infant son who died in his crib, the marriage destroyed by addiction, the trauma of a brutal childhood, the joys of reunification….these are events any of us would need to share. Homelessness comes with a spectrum of hurt, with the sharpest pain coming from shame and isolation. Hearing these stories, and letting them touch us deeply, is the mission of Chaplains on the Way. It’s why we say “Hope is found
in hearts connected.” It’s why I will miss this ministry so very much.
The Irish poet John O’Donohue wrote a poem called “For One Who is Exhausted.” I’ve been leaning into it recently, with new lines jumping out at me each day:
“When the rhythm of the heart becomes hectic……the light in the mind becomes dim.
Weariness invades your spirit.
…There is nothing else to do now but rest, and patiently learn to receive the self….”
Yes, the light in my mind has become dim, though it was never very bright before! And yes, I am weary, looking forward to rest and to receiving. My decision to step down as executive director of COTW is fueled in part by this, and by my desire to spend more time on my goat farm with friends and family. But it’s also a simple matter of timing. Ten years is a good run in any organization. Justi Godoy and Jill Gaulding are capable and eager to carry on the mission of COTW. And so it’s a perfect blessing for me to step back at the same time there are those who will joyfully step forward.
So dear friends, my last bit of gratitude goes to you. Thank you for supporting Chaplains On the Way: the community of unhoused folks in Waltham and the chaplains who offer connection and spiritual companioning to them. Thank you for helping us grow into the financially stable and prophetically grounded ministry we are today. I hope you will continue to support and cherish this beloved community where housed and unhoused people together, are creating a new template for the transformative power of love.
May all people be so blessed,
Rev. Becky Sheble-Hall