‘I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full’

This is a difficult blog to write due to word-count limitation! It is a blog book-ended with coming to terms with compulsory redundancy and the passing of Liam while my family and I celebrated the great joy of new beginnings starting with a wedding, an engagement and then the arrival of Sorcha Keegan, five-week premature. This blog is not really about the events in and of themselves but rather about the grace of God working in both the sadness and the joy of my life.

My struggle with coming to terms with compulsory redundancy has been an ongoing process.

It reached its zenith point on “Independence Day” – the significance of the name not being lost on me!

Since I first found out about my redundancy, I realise I have been going through the stages of grief as much as I have been trusting that the road to acceptance would happen sooner rather than later.  Alas these stages of grief cannot be short-circuited.  However, on “Independence Day”, the day of my exit interview, the grieving process seemed to have reached a depth I hadn’t previously experienced and thankfully, it became my turning point. In spite of the upset, I still managed to sit in prayer that evening before heading out to my nephew’s engagement party.

From my prayer, I had the insight to recognise that the five staff who were leaving needed to mark our time in Crosscare and our work in Community Services. I emailed my colleagues to come to the office on our last day with symbols of their work.

I was also aware that our other colleagues wanted to say ‘good-bye’ to the five of us but as it was not a time of celebration it was awkward to find a way to do so.  With permission from my colleagues, I invited the staff to lunch in our place of work and also felt inspired to include the CEO, the HR Director and Finance Director – in other words, the decision-makers!

My four colleagues and I held a little ritual, in which we built a small altar placing our symbols on the Crosscare apron – symbolising our service.  It was a ritual of tenderness and gratitude for our work, our relationships and an awe for our clients who had influenced and transformed our lives. We closed with a simple blessing for each other and celebrated God’s providence playing and singing “My Lighthouse” – my current anthem!

The lunch was equally tender and extraordinary not just because our colleagues paid tribute to us but because, we could speak lovingly about our time in Crosscare and because we could mutually honour the relationships we had built over the years – a complete 180 within twenty-four hours. But as St. Paul points out: “If one member is honoured, all rejoice together.” 1 Cor. 12:26. Is it any wonder I felt healed, able to forgive and finally acceptant of my circumstances? Sentiments also felt by my other colleagues. This was clearly the work of grace in the mess of this compulsory redundancy but which was transcended into something beautiful and gracious. It was also the power of prayer as without it, there was nothing in place for our exit nor could any of us see a fitting end to close and honour these collective relationships but by the power of the Spirit “he is able to do more than I ask or think.” Ephesians 3:20

On my return journey home giving thanks for such a turn-around I then learned of Liam’s passing.  I was stopped in my tracks! I remembered Liam’s welcome, his bashful but cheeky smile, his Dublin wit and the sparkle in his eyes.  I then thought of Anna and how proud she was of her granddad as much as he was of her.  This was a different type of ending – one more permanent and a different type of grief but one requiring ultimate acceptance and trust in resurrection.

As I look back on this week full of new beginnings, of the journey towards acceptance, the power of grace in the mess of our lives and the reverential Silence caused by Liam’s passing, I’m reminded of the words of St. Paul: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, grieve with those who grieve.” Romans 12:15

Throughout these events, God’s power has been shown in our “call to relationship with one another.  In this way, we render ourselves vulnerable to the joys and griefs of others”[1] and vulnerable to healing and forgiveness.  My path of descent has truly led me to the path of transformation.

[1] https://thegospelapprentice.com/tag/grieving/ (accessed July 9th 2018).

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