Every day in our life's journey holds its own special treasures, if we have eyes to see...

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Summer of Goodbyes

As noted in a previous blog entry, we're re-locating to northern California for the school year. That has made this summer different from others in many ways. Where normally I would divide my time between tending flowerbeds, processing garden produce, and generally occupying my world, I have instead been systematically sorting through closets and cubbyholes, packing what must go and purging that which has outlived its usefulness.

Rosie and Bucky
Besides having slightly unruly flowerbeds as a result of my aforementioned neglect, I have a growing list of goodbyes as well--and goodbyes have never been my favorite thing. This week, we said farewell to Rosie, our Jersey milk cow, and her calf Bucky. I have enjoyed them and they have been amazing. They have also been a lot of work and worry at times. So our goodbye was just that--good. But it has caused me to ponder farewells in general.

Whether it is a visit with a friend, a change of workplace, or moving from one season or state to another, a goodbye is the ending of something. And yet it is also a beginning, for in order for something new to come, something old must pass. A baby must leave babyhood behind. That is sad. But sadder still is a baby who never grows up. Adult children move from home, leaving a hole only they can fill. That is sad. But sadder still would be an adult child whose life does not move forward.

The more epic the goodbye, the more it carries the weight of ending. This must be why we wave until the harbor can no longer be seen from the ship or the friendly lights of the house are no longer visible around the curve in the road. Most of us do not relish the process of letting go, for in that moment between ending and beginning, we hang in space. The future, even if welcome, holds the unknown, while that to which we are bidding farewell holds the comfort of a familiar world.

Why would anyone volunteer for a goodbye of this sort? I'm asking myself this question. And I'm remembering the day my mother said goodbye to me at the door of my kindergarten room. It was one of those hard farewells, and I, for one, was not willing. But looking back, I can see that it was also the beginning of many good and growing experiences. I could not stay five forever, as safe and comfortable as that would have felt. This holds true even today, as I contemplate our move. Sure, we could stay in this little corner of Missouri paradise, and it would be good. But it would not be best.

When we stand before an open door and do not go through it, we choose to stop growing, I think, and that is one thing I do not want to do. I love the safety and comfort of the known at least as much as the average bear. But stagnancy scares me more than the loss of my comfort zones, and my pioneer blood calls me forth. "Explore!" it urges. "Experience. Go where you have never gone before. Great things lie before you, so step bravely forth."

Having heard that voice, I am not content with the cocoon I have fashioned. It constrains me, and looks to the past and present, but not the future. So I brace myself for the series of goodbyes that are lining up before me. I am not the best at farewells, and do not know how to do endings very well. But it will be all right. Some of my leave-takings are but temporary, and for those like the one with Rosie and Bucky, I will draw comfort from memories, from assurance that they are in a very good place, and from the God of all Comfort, who Himself completely understands goodbyes.


  1. Indeed. How true, and peacefully and eloquently stated.

  2. Selfishly and at first I was not thrilled for you, but now I am. You are getting your heart's desire and that is awesome. Leslie, will thrive wherever you land and not because a new location awaits you [because we know that "location" does not equal happiness]. No, you will thrive because you know the Giver of all good gifts and I cannot wait to hear all about your new adventures!

  3. Thank you, all. Your words encourage me :-)