The Long Goodbye

The church I serve is in the “search and call” process for a new, settled Senior Minister. And up until today, I’ve been pretty chill about the whole thing.  This isn’t my first rodeo.  Saying goodbye is part of my job.  And hopefully, we say goodbye well.

But then, just out of nowhere, I found myself with a lump in my throat.  My breath caught. My chest seized.

I’ve gotta say goodbye to these people.  Like, really.

I’ve gotta say goodbye to people who have become my friends.  Prayer partners. Laughing companions. Fellow pilgrims.

I’ve gotta say goodbye knowing that there are things left undone.  Hopes I had for this community, which got pushed to the backburner, while other issues took precedent. Projects which got pushed aside for the sake of something bigger, better, or more pressing.  Creative ventures, spiritual explorations, and prayerful experiences which didn’t find their way into the crowded days and ‘business’ of being church.

I gotta say goodbye knowing that babies will be born while someone else blesses their journey.  Little ones will get perfect spelling scores and take violin lessons and someone else will be there to celebrate this ‘new thing’.  And bigger little ones, will graduate and wander into their future and someone else will be there to pray over their accomplishment. Men and women will die and someone else will memorialize them and tell their story and bless their going-forth.  Others will wonder about their faith and someone else will walk with them on that quest. And still others will awaken something new within themselves and someone else will rejoice in their blessing.

This is the long goodbye.

And it’s AS stinky AS it is, beautiful.

I’m grateful for the chance to be a small part of this community.  To pass through.  To share glimpses of God together.  To be curious and anxious and hopeful together.  To weep and crawl and yearn together.

And finally,
to say goodbye together.

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