The Surprising Discovery of Being Able
This is a season for goodbyes. We see it in graduations from every level of school, colleges, high schools, middle schools and guess what, even preschools. As director of the Little School at Grace Church for four years, I saw tears running down faces of not only students but teachers. They had developed a relationship over their time together and they really cared for each other. The young students couldn’t know what was next-new building, new friends, new routines. It was frightening. Teachers were sad because these little precious souls were innocent and safe; what would come next?
Saying goodbye is hard. It’s hard for those left behind and those going forward. There are always unknowns. All of the sudden our convenient world, our predictable world and friendly world changes. Are we ready, are we confident to make those changes? For those who stay, the feelings of loss are real. How will we work that out?
Goodbyes and hellos are linked together. They are not distinct or unconnected. It’s not possible to have hellos without good byes. We discover after a while that we can take the next step. We develop confidence. Back to the Little School. Those five years olds who left in tears return the following fall for a visit full of excitement and swagger. They have grown taller and smarter. They have gained something in just a few months. What it is exactly? It’s more knowledge of who they are and what they can accomplish. It’s part of growing up.
As we say good bye to the Easter season something extraordinary happens. There is a scene reported in Luke’s Gospel where Jesus says good bye to his disciples. John’s Gospel quotes Jesus as saying, “Where I am going you cannot go, but I will also always be with you.” Doesn’t that sound a little like parent talk, that reassurance?
Jesus actually leaves the disciples after 40 days of being with them in a discernable way. Now they are on their own. They had to discover what God in Christ wants for them through prayer, study and community life. That wouldn’t have been possible if Jesus remained. My guess is that the new Christian group would have remained small and unambitious with him always at their table. However now they were on their own. Oh yes, they would have the gift of the Spirit-the “get up and go” quality of faith in God. But they wouldn’t have had it if they hadn’t been abandoned by the old Jesus.
Even birds get kicked out of the nest. Without that first shove, they wouldn’t have learned to fly. So, this is the moment-the sadness of goodbye but imagine what is just around the corner; that wonderful discovery that we’re ready to move on. Remember God doesn’t call the qualified, God qualifies the called every step of the way.