It is so hard to believe that this is my last column for the Heirloom! There have been times in this unusual fall when it has seemed surreal that I would be retiring without being in your physical presence again. But so it is to be. That fact has gotten more and more real as my last worship service approaches. And, as it gets more real, I find myself growing ever more emotional. There is sadness, yes, but also a sense of fullness and gratitude as I reflect on all that I have been honored to witness over these past eight years.
Then there is also that small voice in the back of my head. Have I shared all I wanted to share? Have I given all I could give? And — will I have made a lasting difference in the lives of the children and youth at Heritage?
Of course, these questions cannot be answered and perhaps shouldn’t even be contemplated, springing as they do from hubris. I know that this congregation is ready for a new voice with new ideas, programs and structure. And I know in the deepest part of my heart that you will do quite fine without me as your minister — indeed, that you will flourish.
Yet what religious education professional doesn’t want to be remembered, credited with having some influence on the lives of the young people they have served, however modest that influence might be?
This I know. Every child, youth, parent, and indeed adult, at Heritage has made a difference in my life. Your presence, support, and love has filled me with hope, lifted me with kindness, and enriched my days without measure. It may be a cliché but there is no greater truth that I have learned from each of you much, much more than I ever managed to teach.
Until we meet again,
Rev. Leslie Woodward