Just over a week ago Caitlyn and I laboriously loaded all our life’s belongings into the back of a U-Haul (with the help of many friends, to whom we are extremely grateful), and then said tearful goodbyes to our wonderful community at Bethel Seminary. Caitlyn stayed back for few days, first cleaning the apartment then working her last few shifts at Lindey’s Steak House, and I drove north that Thursday afternoon, trying not to think of all the things and people I’m going to miss – trying not to go blind with tears while I kept the U-Haul between the stripes and dashes of Interstate 35 and Highway 53.
Goodbyes are usually hard, especially when you’re saying goodbye to the place where you’ve toiled alongside families and neighbors all trying to earn a seminary education while raising kids or making ends meet working late-night jobs with a book in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. It’s the place where strangers and classmates became our closest community and the place where our girls learned to walk, give fist bumps to the neighbors, and go face-first down the playground slide with a mouth full of dirt, gravel, and dandelions.
Oh…and it’s also the place Caitlyn and I learned to garden on our own – no longer tugging on the shirt-tails of our mothers while we trailed through plants up to our shoulders, we became the ones responsible for turning the earth, caring for tender seedlings, and picking our plump produce in the hot August sun.
Indeed we’ll miss the relationships more than anything, but no doubt our years of effort in the Seminary Community Garden and the wonderful harvests we’ve enjoyed have made that garden a hard place to leave. As I drove the U-Haul down Bethel Drive for the last time last Thursday, I couldn’t help but look over my left shoulder at the sunny hilltop and feel a sense of sadness, knowing I may never again turn the stinky, rich compost with a pitchfork or pluck cherry tomatoes and toss them into my mouth where they burst like water balloons between my teeth. We’ve enjoyed and learned many things from the Sem Garden, and so as a farewell to that marvelous place, over the next several days I’ll be sharing some of the memories and lessons we’ve enjoyed. I’ll be back soon…