A house is not a home. Yet, standing in an empty house, these walls and room feel saturated with stories. Silent echoes reverberate the sounds of long ago parties. Shadows of former guests dance on the walls. The outside breeze finds a draft, bringing the life of the surrounding city into this humble place.
I never thought I would leave Louisville. My hometown has given me a life I could have never dreamed possible. The roots of this city run deep in my veins, and so often, I find myself stumbling over the interwoven knots overgrowing the paths. The beauty of Louisville is that no one is a stranger. Ask someone where they went to high school, where they grew up, which Church their family attends, or their favorite place to grab a drink, and there is no doubt that you have several friends in common. The possibility of Louisville is that community is just beyond your front door.
Like every family, Louisville is not perfect. We have a few branches that need pruning and some acreage that deserve extra fertilizing, but it remains a city that thrives in times of both joy and sorrow.
As I reflect on my final hours in my home and hometown, I cannot help but consider the months I spent quarantining in this place.
Since March 2020, we have all experienced countless goodbyes. Over 4 million people have died worldwide. Memories that could have been made were cut short. Countless events, celebrations, holidays, graduations, championships, classes, jobs, and opportunities missed, delayed, or canceled.
Scripture reminds us that unless a grain of wheat falls and dies that it remains a single grain. But, if the grain dies, it grows new life that bears eternal fruit.
When I first left Louisville for graduate school in 2019, I thought I’d be studying in an intensive collegiate environment and eventually return to life back in the 502. However, Covid masked the majority of my experience, and my hopes for in-person learning were dulled by zoom fatigue. Clinging to seeds of missed moments and potential possibilities lost, I failed to let expectations fall to reveal the splendid good that did occur.
As we quarantined in our rooms, our friends and family members died separated and alone. On FaceTime, we watched the deaths of loving faces fade into timeless life. Our cries, reflected in the glass, ring unanswered as we call out for a final embrace.
While the promise of the vaccine opened the tomb of isolation and quarantine. For myself, and likely many others, I remained in the tomb. I remained wounded from the traumatic loss of life, broken from the racial reckonings of 2020, and hoarse from the bitter words I spoke in haste.
In a time when the Earth slowed, I was unable to relax my grip and release the seeds of pain, sadness, and anger.
Imagine what could have grown if those seeds had fallen and died sooner?
As I walk the paths of Louisville and listen to the echoes of my home for a final time, my mind is flooded by the memories that are rooted in this place. My fingers loosen their grip, and my hands till the seeds of new beginnings amidst the rich soil of possibility.
To my family, those who brought me into life, and those who have gone before me into death, I am forever grateful for the love you lived for me.
To my friends who become my family, I am forever humbled by the lives you lead; you each make me a better person for simply knowing you.
To my teachers, students, and learning and faith communities, you have given me hope for the world and promise that tomorrow always bears eternal fruit.
To those whom I have failed, wronged, or hurt, know of my apologies for the wounds I caused, may forgiveness mend any broken bridges.
To my fellow Louisvillians, I am overwhelmed with the realization that I love you all. Even though we may be strangers, we are not alien to one another. Shining like the sun, you have revealed to me the true depths of love possible in all creation.
May the love that lives in Louisville transform the beauty of the world
God of New Beginnings,
I give you thanks for this day and for the journey that led me here.
I give thanks to teachers, friends, and family. They dedicated their lives to encouraging, supporting, and loving others. May they witness the fruits of their love planted long ago.
I especially pray for those who are no longer with us. A person is never fully dead. Their life, memory, essence, and soul forever influences the world. So may the love of those who have gone before us forever live on through our life.
Loving God, you call us each by name to become humble servants of the Gospel. May we continue to be inspired to ignite change for and with a world in need.
Knowing that everything depends on Love,
may the love that was born in us
transform the beauty of the world.
Rooted in faith, I offer this prayer.