How to Say Goodbye!
I sit here today, snuggling under the doona, trying to process what has happened in the last week. I do have a cold so it’s my excuse for doing some reflecting today.
Sometimes we go on in the world as though things won’t change, that everything will stay the same. Sometimes that’s because we are in the depths of despair or grief or loneliness or self-destruction and we cannot see a way out. Sometimes it’s because life is so good, we never want the moment to end.
And sometimes it’s because the life we are leading seems right, and the people in it seem right and we think that these people will always be around. Always be there to consult, to share with and laugh with.
This is especially if you have a job like mine, helping to lead a church community in a world that probably doesn’t care that much about the call of Jesus. Yet the people in my church care very deeply, and have cared for a long time, working to support one another as well as those marginalised in our society. But the congregation is aging, and the years are catching up.
One person who I just assumed would go on forever died the other day, suddenly. What a shock, not because I didn’t think that 84 was an age that this might happen, just that I could not really see a world in which she wasn’t in it.
One day she was here, the next she was gone. And everything you thought about how life was going, goes out the window.
Both Marg, who died and Nev have been important people in my life for about 35 years, sharing the ups and downs, the joys and sorrows of being friends, mentors, travelling companions, and seekers of the divine in life. And in between we had such fun.
No matter where we were, or what we were doing, the topic always seemed to come back to God. Where, when , how and even what?
We would have many, many discussions, frank discussions on our doubts, our difficulties and our trust in the faith that was part of their lives from very early on.
They were never dogmatic, never not open to a new idea, never afraid to explore the meaning of life and now death, as I slowly developed my own thoughts and feelings on God, and my role in the world, coming from a scientific and non churchy background.
And they were never ones for a traditional view. They were always trying to fashion new words and images for the reality that sits under all reality. That drives us forward towards one another in love. That maybe we can touch and sense in our most aware moments.
Yet suddenly it’s finished…..
We did talk about death, and what it might mean. Actually we talked about it endlessly as Nev is 88 after all! Not a heavenly home for some and hell for others, as many believe, but a mystery at the heart of life.
Rob Bell, one of my favourite authors, writes..
We are both large and small
Strong and weak
Formidable and faint
Reflecting the image of the divine
And formed from dust.
We are a paradox. We are made of dust and stars and energy and atoms, and then maybe something else . When I now speak of God, I believe it is a presence that has to be embodied in us because that is what we are, human beings. God’s creative effect has to be lived out in the world by us. if you see Jesus as that embodiment then you will see Gods message not as a dogmatic calling to another life, but a calling to this life, to make it better.
This is what Marg did, and countess others do every single day.
We do what we can, when we can, within the confines of our humanity. But once we have gone, we have gone. That is sometimes how I think. How many think. How I think Nev thinks. But then I feel a stirring.
If God’s spirit is eternal, from the very beginning of time, and found in all things, then maybe there is more.
A mystery at the heart of life. A living on not just in those left behind, but a mystery at the heart of God.
For me, as for others, there seems to be something more, hidden under the surface of our reality. Of who we are, and what the world is. There seems to be something resonating, a call if you like, that draws us forward to look over the edge.
And when we do, it speaks of love that goes on, whatever and however that happens.
Maybe Marg’s spirit is adding to the collective consciousness that surrounds us all, who knows. All I know is that she was bonded to God when she was alive and somehow that bond will remain. Looking over the edge gives me a sense we are all one in God, forever, and that is enough for me.
I will so miss our sharing over cups of tea and chocolate biscuits, and Indian dinners, although I will still share with Nev, as he fashions a different life out of the one he knew with Marg. But Marg will go on in the hearts and minds of all who knew her and loved her, and in those lives she touched. The rest as Nev would say, is just poetry. Or mystery.
As I go forward myself, there is a realisation that life is always changing, and grief and sorrow is part of the journey. But so is love and friendship and joy. Nothing stays the same.
Maybe the only thing we can do is enjoy the ride, contribute where we can and tell those who travel with us how much they mean to us, every single day.