Finding the Good in Goodbyes

The goodbyes are starting to trickle in.  In fact, my brother’s coming up today to move the majority of my stuff back home.  It’s been a tough, but beautiful time.

One thing that’s making it all the more difficult is that I’ve recently become more and more dissatisfied with Facebook.  More than ever my homepage looks like either a battlefield for the culture wars or a middle school popularity contest.  I miss the mundaneness that Facebook used to be, when the idea of a status was so novel you’d post  a new and completely superfluous one every day.  A certain beauty can be found in the mundane though.  After all, that’s where most of life happens.  Anyways.  While it’s tempting to think about deleting my account, I won’t because I do want connections that Facebook does offer, as tenuous as they may be.  Example: I laughed out loud yesterday when my newsfeed came up with pictures of a high school friend playing with lightsabers (and no doubt supplying fantastic sound effects).

I suppose there’s Twitter… but that seems so short.  How am I supposed to maintain authentic relationships with people via. 140 characters?

Ideally everyone would have a blog.  Then I could get all of the updates, but with an honesty and depth that Facebook doesn’t offer.  But that’s not possible.  Even if it were… if I spent all of my time reading about everyone else’s life,  it would mean that I wasn’t building up new relationships and focusing on the people with me in the present moment.

I think what it comes down to is that I can’t avoid goodbyes.  Our culture likes to shield us from suffering, but this is one sorrow that everybody has to face.  Moreover, it’s probably better that they’re sad!  That means the time together was good.  ha, if nothing else goodbyes offer all the more motivation for getting into heaven.  Finally!  A place where goodbye doesn’t exist!

Sidenote:  A variant of this comes up all the time in Honduras.  I’ll meet some elderly man or woman (who usually lacks most of his/her teeth) going on and on and on in Spanish.  All I can do is smile and nod because I have absolutely NO IDEA what is being said.  That’s when I think, “Alright, if we both make it to heaven, I’ll find you.  You can tell me all of this again, and then I’ll actually understand you.”

You say a lot of goodbyes in Honduras too.  I was talking about this with a friend down there once and I absolutely loved her response to it.  She told me that God sends different people to us for either “a season, a reason, or lifetime.”   He knows who we need and for how long we need them.   As in all things, it requires a trust that His timing is perfect.  Hopefully, that time shared together was beautiful and good.  Hopefully we’re all better people for having had the encounter.   I like thinking that even if this is the end of some of the relationships that I’ve formed here in Virginia, God has known for all eternity we would spend these two years together, that we needed each other for this time.  If we maintain these relationships, that’s a gift.  If we don’t, that means there are other relationships for us to develop now, and those will be gifts too.

Related to all of this is one of my favorite prayers.  I first found it in a letter that Flannery O’Connor wrote to a friend.

O Raphael, lead us toward those we are waiting for, those who are waiting for us. Raphael, Angel of happy meeting, lead us by the hand toward those we are looking for. May all our movements be guided by your Light and transfigured with your joy.

As I come to this end, I can’t think of a better way to start a new beginning.

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