Today is my last day in the curate's house at Lamford. There's been too much to do to become very melancholy about my move, but I suspect it will hit me when it's all over.
Yesterday was, of course, the great final day 'on duty'. I presided at the 10am mass. Owing to some strange oversight, we ended up with five babies being baptised, when we try to limit the numbers to three. The church was packed and chaotic and regular congregation members were reduced to bringing in chairs from the Hall, as though it was Christmas. As we were assembling I was confronted with a phalanx (well, say eight) of Guides and Brownies having forgotten we'd agreed to parade their banners. In the event, it worked out fine. The babies emitted nary so much as a whine (let alone anything more physical), and silence fell when silence was required.
Afterwards, naturally, we had The Do. I was serenaded with a comic song about my hats, composed by the Director of Music, and deluged with presents and well-wishing before we moved on to a lovely buffet lunch - yes, there was the obligatory Anglican quiche. I had the same conversation about my future about thirty times, I should really have kept count.
People's gratitude is astounding. An American family who are leaving the parish all came for the first time in ages, together with the young man I prepared for confirmation three years ago along with their son. The Best Dressed Woman in Lamford whose house I blessed gave me a bag of presents so exquisitely wrapped in purple and black that I should have taken a photograph. And the troubled man who's recently started coming thanked me 'for all your help' when all I've done is have a couple of conversations with him at the church door. People see their own goodness reflected back in priests - but I suppose that's part of what priesthood means. My other reflection is that I feel oddly relaxed about it. Coming back from my secondment in February was a strange experience, and these last couple of months have felt like a hiatus. The process of detachment from Lamford has been going on a long while.
Now all my things are in boxes, and professionals will be looking after them. It's not what I wanted, but perhaps it will do me good.