August 24, 2016
There is a season for everything.
A time for giving birth
A time for dying;
A time for tears,
A time for laughter;
A time for mourning,
A time for dancing . . . . –Ecclesiastes 3:1, 2, 4
Although goodbye has become a social pleasantry, the word used to carry great weight and meaning. Did you know that goodbye originally meant “God-be-with-ye” or “Go-with-God”? The sentiment was recognition that God was a significant part of the leaving, both for the one staying as well as the one going. When the future was uncertain, there was strength in remembering that the One who gave and cherished life would be there to protect, console and lead to new life.
Goodbyes take many forms. We say goodbye to parents, spouses, children, friends, sometimes for a day, a year or until we meet them on the other side of this life. We leave familiar places and secure homes. We bid farewell to healthy bodies, burden-free spirits and minds. We change ideas, our self-image and even our religion.
Does a person ever get used to saying goodbye? And should we? I don’t think so. Yes, we can be bruised by life’s farewells. But it is also possible to be healed. We can become whole again. Goodbyes, especially intense ones, invite ultimate questions: Why suffering? Where am I headed? What do I value most? What do I believe about life and death? Goodbyes create space in us where we can allow ourselves room to look at life and gradually discover answers to those questions. We also learn a lot about significant others in our lives; we learn who is willing to walk the long road with us, whose heart welcomes us no matter what, who loves us enough to stand with us in good times and in bad, who is willing to love us enough to speak the truth for us and to us. Goodbyes draw us to greater reliance upon the God of love who invites us to live in hope, with greater meaning and deeper joy.
We cannot avoid the ache that comes with goodbyes. However, the blessing of farewells is that in our grief we both give ourselves and find ourselves. We become one with whom and whatever met us on our journey. I choose to invest myself deeply even though I know the commitment might cost me the price of goodbyes and letting go. I believe my commitment is worth it, because I have entered into the mystery of life where the hellos that follow goodbyes are guideposts that lead us to God where we learn to live in hope and with greater meaning and deeper joy.
Goodbye is a blessing of love, proclaiming the belief that if God is with you, you will never be alone, that comfort, strength and all the other blessings of a loving presence will accompany you. Goodbye.
–Rev. Brigitta Remole