Tag Archives: goodbyes

I have loved

 

I’ve never liked goodbyes.  When my daughter was little she would refuse even to say the word, as if by not acknowledging someone’s departure she could somehow prevent it from happening.  There are days when I wish I could work that kind of magic myself.

But goodbyes, and the grief that accompanies them, are a part of life that we can’t avoid.

This week we’ve said goodbye to yet more good friends.  People that we have loved, laughed and shared life with, and who are now off to start a new chapter in another part of the world. It happens, all the time. For some it’s a temporary farewell, because we know that one way or another, we will see them again. But we don’t know how many years that might take, and we will miss them.  They take a part of our hearts with them.

It hurts to say goodbye. And sometimes a little voice whispers that it would safer to love less; to not invest pieces of my heart in friendships with people who will inevitably leave;  that this sadness and sense of loss is my own fault and that perhaps I should have guarded my heart better.  And I certainly won’t cry, because that would be silly.

In some cultures people know how to grieve well.  I suspect that some of us have lost touch with that a bit.  We treat grief of all kinds like an illness, something mysterious that you need to get over as quickly as you can and avoid wherever possible.

And yet grief isn’t a malfunction. It’s not a sign that something is broken and need fixing.  It’s actually the reverse. It’s a sign that you have done what you were supposed to do, a medal of honour to say that you have loved.

CS Lewis wrote this: “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken.”  Grief is a risk we take when we love.

I’m reminded of this from Ecclesiastes:

there is a time for everything, a season for every activity under the sun
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot
a time to kill and a time to heal
a time to pull down and a time to build up
a time to weep and a time to laugh
a time for mourning and a time for dancing

 

This is how life is. Goodbyes and grief happen. There are seasons where weeping and mourning and perhaps even anger are the appropriate emotions to feel and to express.  But I love that this piece of poetry also sparkles with hope.  There will also be seasons of healing and building, laughing and dancing to come, at the right time.

So that’s the postcard of the moment.  When you’re mourning, for whatever reason, you may not want to do it loudly, but do it without shame.

Wear it as a medal of honour – I have loved.

medal

 

 

 

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Haybales and farewells

It’s June, and around here that’s the season of rising temperatures, goodbye parties and little round haystacks.

The haystacks sit rolled up in fields inside and around the city, straw-yellow rolls on a landscape of parched stubble.  The swaying grass has been cut, rolled up and now waits patiently in the sun for the day when it will be piled up precariously on a back of a truck and taken away.

I’ve been thinking about these haystacks a lot as I’ve watched friends pack up their homes and say their goodbyes this week. They too are experiencing the end of a season and wondering what the next one will be like.  Their lives have been cut down and rolled up, and they sit now in this field, in the odd period of in-betweeness, waiting, and saying goodbye.

One day it will be my turn.  For now, my heart is aching for the friendships that will be missed – empty fields in the landscape of my life.

The haybales that I’m seeing everywhere mark the end of a season, it’s ok, right even, to be sad that the grass no longer ripples at the touch of the wind, green from the winter rains or white from the spring sunshine.  It’s ok to be sad, but it’s also a time of year to be hopeful.

Because God’s word for us at this time of year, for the leavers and the left-behinds, is this: the goodness is not lost.

The goodness is not lost.

The grass is cut and rolled up because it’s made it to the end of its season.  If it were to stay in the field it would dry out, and the goodness stored up in it during this season would be lost forever.  But the haybale keeps the grass inside it fresh.  The goodness and growth is locked in so that it can be of use in a new season.

All that you’ve learned, all that you’ve grown, all the love and grace and hope that you have received and then given out to others… all that is not lost.  Somehow it’s just rolled up and put away for another season.

I’m sure I don’t completely understand this picture. But even as the cumulative grief of friends leaving is catching at my heart, so I can feel the hope in these haybales.  God knows what he is doing – the goodness will not be lost.

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