Farewell to Philadelphia


I woke up  last night at 2:00 a.m. with two prominent feelings. One being excitement because we finally move today! I am looking forward to embarking on the journey we’ve been discussing for months. It is time to set sail. All is in order (or seems to be); farewells have been exchanged; welcomes are forthcoming and the adventure awaits us.

And the second feeling was that of muscle aches and pains that remind me that I’m 30. My body now feels the effects of scrubbing down our apartment yesterday. And it was sore and didn’t want me to sleep.

So after 45 minutes of tossing and turning, I saw this as an opportunity for my final entry from Philadelphia. What a five years it’s been! As we’ve said good-bye, I’ve been reminded of just how rich it has been … and just how many chapters have been written in these 5 years since September 2004. I am not the same person who arrived with my brother Jonathan and Uncle Billy and Mom to 308 Bethlehem Pike and the basement apartment I would call home for my first semester at Westminster Seminary.

I came as Heather Elizabeth Davis; I leave as Heather Davis Nelson. I arrived very much alone; I leave surrounded by layers of community – seminary, CCEF, New Life Dresher, Cresheim Valley Church, World Harvest Mission, The Counseling Center at Chelten, and Chestnut Hill. From single and alone to married and in love with Seth. From an elementary school Spanish teacher to a pastoral counselor. From a PC user to a lover of Mac/Apple. (Thanks largely to my husband’s influence.)

I will miss this place and these people very very much.  There will be future reflections I’m sure. Countless ones. In the rearview mirror, it will become clearest what Philadelphia has meant to me and the way this season and these communities have shaped me.

For now, I bid you farewell, City of Brotherly Love and those we love who dwell within it.

a ship in harbor

helsingor-dk165The analogy came to me tonight while talking to my friend Ellen: that this season of transition feels like being in a ship in harbor, waiting to set sail for distant lands. We are loading up the cargo, one box at a time. And we are untying the ropes that bind us to Philadelphia one strand at a time. Each good-bye is a letting go. Tearful at the leaving, joyful at the reflection of what the friendship has meant. We will soon be standing on the ship’s deck, waving good-bye to our friends on the other side. And there will be tears on both sides.

And we will “set sail” to a “new land” of Norfolk, Virginia, where a new life awaits us – yet to be discovered. There will be new friends greeting us at the dock, helping us unload our cargo and initiate ties of relationship that will bind us to our future home. There will be a season of many “hello’s”.

But now is the season of saying “good-bye.” And so I pray that I will be fully present for each one. Soaking up the memories – the celebration of what has been enjoyed in these five years in Philadelphia.