As I sat in my last council meeting, I was awash with a mixture of emotions. Trepidation for the future, anxiety, and a bland sense of boredom. My concerns over whether or not I had made a contribution overwhelmed me. When Councillor Brown trounced me once again in debate, it seemed symbolic of my insipid performances in the council across the years. Or at least it seemed fitting to end on a loss, to remind myself of the reality of the council chamber: that though it was something I had aspired to and though it was the venue of many successes it was also the chamber of numerous failures.
I felt feelings that normally I equated with someone’s death. This time it felt like my own. I heard it once said that leaving politics is a kind of death. Was it Paul Keating who made that remark about Bob Hawke, that the scent of death was on him? I really felt as though I was dying and as though I was alone in the world. Yet for months I had been looking forward to life outside of council, a life with more leisure time, a life with fewer meetings to attend. But for so long, council has been a part of me, a part of my identity.
I guess part of me never let go of the dream of entering parliament, something I hoped my tenure on council would lead to. In leaving council I was saying goodbye to my old self, and when I came to my last meeting, it was like my last supper. Instead of friends around the table and well-wishers there were those who would soon abandon me.
Time does not stand still nor does it give us much time to mourn our loss. The Day of Atonement is one day away and the Feast of Tabernacles follows fast on its heels. On the Day of Atonement there will be much prayer and the lack of food or substance will focus my mind on anything other than council.
I am reminded of the ancient Israelites who were taken out of Egypt and led into the desert. The concept of trusting God entirely with their future, leaving a secure past behind was so difficult for them that despite the evidence of the most extraordinary miracles, they rebelled against Moses within a few days. I am faced with the same fear now. I am moving from a certain source of income, from a role of some eminence in the community, to a time of uncertainty. I am experiencing fear and uncertainty. Not regret and dread. I do not regret my choice. These next few holy weeks will allow me to move forward in God’s ways, with God’s people. I will find an acceptance of an uncertain future, a future where I expect God to provide, to guide and sustain me.