Bittersweet. It’s one of those words we can’t really understand until we experience it.

When sorrow mingles with appreciation and fondness, and love catches its breath and then sighs. When our eyes tear up even as we’re smiling.

Times of transition are bittersweet. Yes, there is loss. We cherish the memories, relationships, and growth of times past. And yes, the future holds possibilities that may take us to new growth, new relationships, new opportunities, new love—and the wisdom that grows from everything we’ve experienced before.

“However sheltered this port, and however calm these waters, we must not anchor here; however welcome the hospitality that surrounds us, we are permitted to receive it but a little while.”

Those words are Walt Whitman’s, from his iconic poem, “Song of the Open Road.” Soon I’ll set off for the UU Fellowship of Harford County, MD. My journey with Shelter Rock during our four-year developmental ministry is ending and a new journey is beginning—for me as well as for you.

Whenever human beings travel from one place to another—when they leave behind friends and familiar places for somewhere new—they cannot help but carry with them part of the place they’ve left behind. Something of my hopes and my love and my longing will remain at Shelter Rock; and forevermore I’ll carry in my heart a great big chunk of who you are and your deep embracing love. I am grateful for this time among you.

It is bittersweet to say good-bye: sad to bid farewell to so many good and vibrant souls and heart-warming to profess mutual appreciation and a revived sense of resilience and purpose. In every new endeavor, in every step a human being takes (no matter how small), our forays into Life are buoyed and supported by the people and experiences that have readied us for the next passage.

What marks our human journey is not a change of location, but the growth we achieve along the way: compassion, courage, patience, open-mindedness, and the willingness to learn from experience. We’re all on that road, and if we’re persistent it leads to spiritual transformation. I seek it for myself; I wish it for you all.

And so, onward! Onward, as Whitman says, to “know the universe itself as a road—as many roads—as roads for traveling souls.”

With love,
Rev. Jaye Brooks