Monday, August 17, 2015

COMMUNITY

Denver was never a part of my plans. I'm not against mountains by any stretch of the imagination, but I wouldn't have moved across the country to be near them. I'm more of a beach lover. The temperate summers have been wonderful, but I have never liked the cold (except perhaps only abstractly through a childhood dream of living in a lighthouse in Maine). The winters alone would have been enough to keep Colorado off my list of places to live. (And my first winter here about did this Texan in.)

Yet, despite my lack of plans for this place, here I am 3 years later with a heart breaking over my quickly approaching departure.


Denver is a great city, and Colorado is a beautiful state. I love both the nature in our backyard and the city's downtown streets. But it's the people here who make it hard to leave.

When I moved to Colorado back in 2012 to be a part of an AmeriCorps program here, I knew almost no one. I thought that between the other people in my program, David and the couple of college friends that had also moved to Colorado, my community would be sufficient. Yet, what actually happened was that, over the course of a few years, I have become immersed in one of the deepest communities I have ever been a part of. There are sage, retired volunteers and colorful, regulars who finally found housing that I met in my time working downtown. There's a center full of nuns and a church small group full of deep friends south of the city. This whole metro area is a wide and deep network of people who have played important roles in my life over the last few years.

It's actually quite remarkable to look at the network of love and support that has developed around me over the last few years. So many people have invited me into their lives and, in doing so, made deep impressions on my own life.

These networks and impressions have been a huge blessing to me over the last few years of big life transitions. Yet, with deep connection comes the pain of saying goodbye. While we have anticipated this upcoming move to Cambodia with excitement for almost a year now, the actual departure from Colorado has crept up on us. With likely no more than a month and a half left here in Colorado, David and I are all of a sudden in a season of starting to say goodbye, and it is surprisingly hard.

Yet, I'm thankful that it is hard to leave. It means we have invested here. It means that we have had deep connections. It reveals that out of the void a community was born. As we transition to a place where we will be hundreds of miles away from almost anyone we know, I am thankful for this painful reminder that friendships, mentors and community can develop so quickly and so deeply. When we leave Cambodia one day, I know that we will feel the same way. But for now, it is just hard.