Tuesday, August 22, 2006

how do you say goodbye

Good bye - it's an interesting concept. We don't have as many words for it as some other languages. We say "good bye" (from God be with you) or farewell, without specifying when or whether we might meet again. In English, every separation is indeterminate.

Summer is close to its end. Young people are saying goodbyes - to home friends if they are going away to school, to camp friends if they are still in school where they live. They are saying goodbyes to people with whom they have shared a short, intense experience (summer love, perhaps) and other people whom they have known all their lives (or so it seems to them). We look at them and wonder at their courage and nonchalance.

Saying goodbye is a life skill that doesn't get easier with age. Somehow we assume that one of the perks of being an adult is saying fewer goodbyes. We find, to our shock, that people continue to move and get sick and change jobs and change aspirations and expectations. They move. Without us, sometimes.

As you look ahead to a time when you have something that you want now, you notice that some things (and people) get left by the wayside as you move forward, and others simply shift away, off on journeys of their own. Some you kick out and some just leave. Some change as they stay in place, so that you do not have the chance to say goodbye - you just look up and notice that what you knew has gone.

Think about your goodbyes. They are not failures - just signs that the world is in motion and so are you. The Bible says "to everything there is a season," and it means that the changing of seasons is a time for melancholy. Be melancholy if necessary. Sadness is also not failure.

And make sure your goodbyes are also farewells, wishes that life continues to go well for the people you will not see, at least for a time. Intention counts.

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