Yesterday, we arrived at Figure Eight Island for our final retreat, one last hurrah together as a Fellows class before we part ways. We’re not sure yet where we’ll all end up, but we know we’re losing at least three to different states, if not more. And last night, as the waves crashed just outside our generously rented beach house and the smell of Ashley’s chocolate bundt cake baking wafted into the living room, The Raleigh Fellows Class of 2018 was having a party. DT3, our resident beats master, was the DJ, with Emilee Paige Grissom as MC because if anyone is going to bring energy and life to a party it’s her. Elaina and Rachel tore up the “dancefloor” with moves that would give Beyoncé a run for her money. Faith successfully sang pretty much every lyric to every song that came on, a feat even more impressive when you consider I don’t think she ever stopped dancing. Hayes twirled and dipped Katie around until they both got adorably flustered. Dan and Chris, of course, made us all laugh as they confidently jumped, lunged, and spun like dorks, each playing off the other’s energy. Taylor slept on the couch close by because he has the coveted ability to sleep any and everywhere. And I sat there watching them all with the biggest, goofiest grin on my face. I was overwhelmed with love for these people who have become some of my closest friends. These past few weeks have been pretty hard as Fellows comes to a close. There was so much to be done, so much to plan, and so much to cling to as it slowly slipped away. But last night, watching my best friends laugh, dance, and even sleep, I didn’t have a care in the world. Everyone was 100% themselves and it felt perfect, for however brief a time.

This morning, my Enneagram thought for the day, as a Two, was an affirmation. It said, “I now affirm that I can let go of loved ones.” Well, that didn’t sound like a particularly good thing to do. Not at first. But I do think there’s a reason I read that thought today. Over the past few weeks, the Fellows have simultaneously spent a ton of time, and yet almost no time together. There’ve been conferences to attend, families to host, and job interviews to be had. But when we finally came back together yesterday, with no interruption in sight, it was like no time had passed. I can let go of these people, a hard, hard thing to do. Because we will, at some point, come back together, and I believe it’ll be like no time has passed. I don’t want to let them go, but I need to. I love them, but like all things that I love that aren’t God, they are meant to be held loosely. Holding things loosely is not my strongest quality, which I imagine is why that was the affirmation for Twos today.

Over the course of the next few days, we will affirm each other. Trying to put into words what each of these people means to me, and the beautiful things I see in them, is an insurmountable task on my own. As Taylor said to us Fellows at our closing banquet, “Y’all know what you mean to me.” I do hope the other Fellows know what they mean to me, because sometimes, most times, words fail. But—and I forget which of our class readings this comes from—where words fail, the Spirit intercedes. I think that pertained to prayer to God, but I think it’s apt here too. As I affirm each of the Fellows, I pray the Spirit will intercede for me, so that they can truly know what they mean to me, what I see in them, and how much of a blessing they have been in my life. I will see them again, in this life or the next. No matter where we go after we leave this beach house, we’ll all reunite in heaven. That’s the beautiful truth our Savior gives us.

~ Calley