Tuesday, June 28, 2011

So Long Farewell

“Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I go back again. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!” Job 1: 21

Don’t you just hate goodbyes? I do. I just found out that a really good priest friend of mine has been reassigned and is moving to another state. And it is hard to imagine things here at the parish without him. But goodbyes happen in all kinds of ways don’t they? People move, people die, kids go to college, parents or spouses go on business trips, friends’ parents get transferred.

Saying goodbye is just plain hard. Why? Well first of all I think we like things the way they are. We don’t like change; and also because we get comfortable with our situations. When we find something we like we want to hold onto it—our dream house, our “perfect” childhood, our best friends, a good book or TV series, etc. We don’t want our kids to grow-up, or our parents to get old, our friends to move away or our spouse to die—or our priest to leave. But they do. And this happens more and more the longer we live.

I don’t think goodbyes were an original part of God’s plan. Seriously. The first “goodbye” came when Adam and Eve had to leave the Garden of Eden. In paradise there were no goodbyes. Goodbyes are a consequence of sin and the fallen nature of the world. They are also a stark reminder that this world is temporary and our hearts long for permanence. Our hearts long for the eternal, where there are no more changes, no more death, no more goodbyes. And so God allows these times of pain, when our hearts are torn by the separation or the departing, not so that we fall into despair or grief, but so that we long for heaven all the more. It is at these times that God is closest to us and pulls us close to Him and that ache in our heart for the person or thing we miss is actually transformed into the realization that it is really God and our true home we are missing. And from that desire can—and should—come a holy zeal and desire to do whatever it takes to reach heaven so we never have to experience a goodbye again for all of eternity. If we think about it, the eternal goodbye is hell and none of us want that, do we?

Dear Jesus, blessed be Your name when You give and when You take away. I long to be with You forever. Amen.

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