Wednesday of the Seventh Week of Easter
May 24, 2023
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Jesus and Paul continue to teach us how to say goodbye.
I think most big goodbyes are pretty hard. Even if we’re not completely in love with our situation, we might still be comfortable in it. We don’t want to make the effort to change or to disconnect from the dailyness to which we are accustomed.
And when we are in love with our situation – with the people and activities that give us life – then goodbyes can be brutal. These kinds of goodbyes are often unchosen, unwelcome, and disorienting.
We can all recall scores of goodbyes we have either chosen or been forced to say. Most of them, I think, are a mix of the two descriptions above – a little bit of sugar and a little bit of vinegar.
One of the many goodbyes I remember came after I had lived in and taught at a lovely parish for over a decade. Our convent was blessed with a wonderful community of sisters. We loved our generous pastors, our welcoming parishioners, and the engaging neighborhood around us. I loved my students and the work I did with them. I loved the sisters I lived with. We recognized our blessings and often quipped to one another that we were living in our “Golden Years”.
But after eleven years, I knew it was time for something different in my life, A call to a new ministry emerged in my heart and that was exciting. But the leave-taking still cut like a razor.
That story has repeated itself several times in my life with different settings and different casts of characters. And I know the same thing is true in each of your lives. When we pause to reflect on all those goodbyes, we may realize that each led to an unimagined hello – hellos that offered us new graces to deepen our lives.
In our readings today, Jesus and Paul stand on that fragile beam which leads from goodbye to hello. Their disciples stand there with them, so both Jesus and Paul make every effort to help them balance themselves to step into the future.
Paul does it like this:
Be vigilant and remember that for three years, night and day,Acts 20:31-32
I unceasingly admonished each of you with tears.
And now I commend you to God
and to that gracious word of his that can build you up
and give you the inheritance among all who are consecrated.
Jesus does it with a prayer:
Holy Father, keep them in your nameJohn 17:11-13
that you have given me,
so that they may be one just as we are one.
When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me,
and I guarded them, and none of them was lost
except the son of destruction,
in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
But now I am coming to you.
I speak this in the world
so that they may share my joy completely.
Today, we may want to spend a little time with Jesus and Paul looking back over the long beam of our lives, thanking God for the graces that poured from our many goodbyes and hellos.
Poetry: In My Dreams – Stevie Smith
In my dreams I am always saying goodbye and riding away,
Whither and why I know not nor do I care.
And the parting is sweet and the parting over is sweeter,
And sweetest of all is the night and the rushing air.
In my dreams they are always waving their hands and saying goodbye,
And they give me the stirrup cup and I smile as I drink,
I am glad the journey is set, I am glad I am going,
I am glad, I am glad, that my friends don’t know what I think.
Music: Every Goodbye Is Hello – Andrew Lippi from the musical “John and Jen”
There’s a wonderful place
Just waiting for you
There are wonderful things
You’ll get to do
Out there, somewhere, the world
And all its wonders
One small step is all it takes to know
Every goodbye is hello
There’s a magical phrase
I’ll tell it to you
Always honor the old
But live for the new
Out there, somewhere
About to be discovered
Trust yourself and
each new day will show
How every goodbye is hello
I will always be near
To hear of all the things you’ll be
Everyone needs a home to return to
And you can turn to me
There’s a time in our
lives when we will know
(There’s a time in our
lives when we will know)
There’s a time to stay home
And a time to grow
Out there, somewhere, your life
And all its promise
Sometimes part of love is letting go
But every goodbye is
Welcome to the world
(Welcome to the world)