Well, a chapter of my life is over. Today was my last day at MPR and my last day at Redleaf Press. I was surprisingly more emotionally involved with the ending of both than I had first expected. It made me think a lot about goodbyes and how they are never truly a smooth and polished thing. They can be awkward or painful. Sometimes you are only saying goodbye to someone temporarily and sometimes you are saying goodbye forever. In America, if we are close, we hug, maybe kiss, clasp hands, grab shoulders and say intent words. The eyes dart and the heart sinks and climbs. All actions laced with the faintest tint or heaviest weight of grief. There is also a strangeness to saying goodbye to people you don't know very well. Will they just meld back into the crowds that make up the public earth once again? I guess. I still remember a lot of the co-workers I spent hours working with in high school, friends from group projects in college classes, translators from mission trips. I think of them here and there, they live in my mind, I hope they are well. Have you ever had a truly charming parting with someone you weren't going to see for a long time or possibly never again? I would like to hear your story.
In all the sadness and unusualness of the goodbye, the unfamiliarity of it--even though it would seem we would be most familiar with it all with all the goodbyes that happen in life--there is still something most beautiful about it. Something in the shadow of the goodbye. I like this quote by Mary Jaksch:
Antiquated goodbye formulations, such as ‘fare-well’, or the even older, ‘fare thee well’ reveal that at the heart, goodbyes are blessings. We bless the other person’s going and coming, wishing that they may be well while away.
That is why we say good-bye. It is a ritual of sorts. We want it to be marvelous, we bless them. We want to say in all other words, You are valued because you are a person. May it go well with you. May your life be a richly beautiful thing. This is how I want to look at partings from now on. Partings from people, things, and seasons. Saying goodbye to nonhuman objects (i.e. your house) or periods of time (i.e. graduating from college) may not be as intimate as a hard goodbye with a person, but they can still be very personal and difficult in a different way. I believe the same attitude can be taken up with this kind of bon voyage too. It is a bold and excellent thing to begin and end and then begin again. It is how life inside is grown and what reaping and sowing are made up of.
I haven't ever hated goodbyes, but I've never particularly loved them either. They are always tinged with a slight anxiety or an urgency of sorts, even when it is simply a so-long to an interval of life, a beloved book, or a place of residence. I am processing how to do them better, how to think of them well, how to have a peaceful temperament toward the whole practice.
I think I've posted this before, but this is a quote dear to my heart.
Let this goodbye of ours, this last goodbye, Be still and splendid like a forest tree... Let there be one grand look within our eyes Built of the wonderment of the past years, Too vast a thing of beauty to be lost In quivering lips and burning floods of tears.