Dé Máirt, Feabhra 28, 2006

The Meaning of Goodbye

Today, I left campus for the last time. No longer can I consider myself a student. No longer can I consider myself a member of that society. Eight months ago I graduated, a few hours ago I said goodbye. I walked campus for the last time, seeing faces of friends, seeing the things that came to make it my home over the course of five years. I saw them, but for the first time I saw them as a stranger, an intruder, no longer welcome in their presence. I’ve moved on, they’ve moved on, and while we are friends and intend to remain so the course the course of time with which we had to impact each other’s lives is ended. We will each go our separate ways now, some to marriage, some to singleness, some to academia, some to notoriety, some to obscurity (though only to the world not immediately around them), some to the country, some to the city, some to were ever their foot falls take them, all of us to excellence, and none to mediocrity. We have been blessed to know each other, and while for a time we must part I believe that our own separate journeys will never take us far from one another. We all travel the same road, we all seek the same goal, but for now we’ve come to a fork in the path and are forced to part. There may come a day when our paths will cross again, but more likely our paths will run ever in parallel. We’ll watch with interest from a distance as each of us runs the course set a head of us, shouting encouragements, over the miles that separate us.
I hate goodbye. I won’t say it if I can get around it, attempting to use cleaver little euphemisms to curb the heartache. I hate goodbye. It’s an eternal truth set in my heart by the one who formed me with his hands. In my mind it’s always had the solemn finality of death attached to it, and while I don’t fear my own death I do fear the separation that it represents, a leave taking never to be reversed. My greatest fear is to be alone, truly and utterly alone. To feel, even for a moment, the separation that my Savior felt as he hung on the cross would be little less than hell. Others are my drive, my reason, my purpose for pursuing ministry. The joy on the face of the worshiper is what lead me to college, it’s what I long to see, it’s God personal gift to me, and it is what will take me across the oceans, into the churches, to graduate school and beyond. But because of this, I will always face goodbye. I will always face times were I must leave those I’ve grown to love, and dance around saying goodbye. So goodbye will remain my enemy and my ever-constant companion.
But maybe, just maybe we can chance fate, and turn goodbye into something less permanent. Maybe we can change the meaning of goodbye, not the death of something but more simply the change of it. The formation of relationship to accommodate time and space; it won’t be the same, nothing ever stays the same we must grow or we must die there is no other choice, but it will be something new and exciting. Just maybe, the end won’t be what we thought it would be, but turning and finding that it is but the beginning of something greater than we ever imagined it would be.
For now I raise my glass and propose a toast to all my friends and readers. Fill the glass with what you will be it smooth or sharp, strong or weak, caffeinated or not, but raise them all the same. I give you the toast of the town, you my friends. You have seen me through both the dark and the light, and if I have to swim the oceans and turn the moon on its head to keep you it’s well worth the price. I have been given no greater, and while our relationship will enviably change, lets make sure that they change for the good. I wish you health, good fortune, blessings, answered prayers, and the deepest desires of you hearts. I will pray for you as you go out among the nations, each to his own allotment. Be what you are created to be, go where you are called to go, love like there is no tomorrow, and give like you have the world in your pocket. Go and bless others as you have blessed me, and if we ever meet again this side of the gates of splendor think not of what was, but what is and what will be, but until then keep in touch, I’ll be here if you need me. I love you all.

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