6 February 2011
Each year at this moment, when I look around our circle knowing we’re soon to depart this great hall, I’m stunned – with sadness to be sure, but more ... with love. I will miss each of you. I’ll long for your laughter and story, for your smile across the table, for the easy reach of hands. Yet how grateful I am for that longing – that I have you to miss.
Nine days are never enough; the months between our gatherings are slow to pass. But we leave here stronger for what we’ve shared – for together our joys are multiplied, our burdens lightened, our courage bolstered. Doors have opened. Light has flooded our lonely corners. I cannot explain what we have, but together we are something rare.
Look! Look at what we have wrought. A world of safety and calm. A place to throw off the cloak that shadows our talents and gifts. A home where we are welcomed, cherished for our unique contributions, where our arrival prompts both a sigh of contentment and a celebration.
And it has been such a celebration.
You are the gift and you are so generous a giver. From all over the world, you come with open hands and hearts. You light candles that will not be extinguished when this hall goes dark for you carry our light back into the world above.
You stand for us.
So come. Join the circle. Our number has changed in the past year - grown - but some, precious to us, we must hold close in spirit. Raise your hands – and theirs – high, not in goodbye but in farewell ... until we meet again.