On saying goodbye to friends

A "scrappy quilt"

With other faith community leaders in Concord, I share responsibility for a column in the local weekly, The Concord JournalHere's my piece from the October 11 edition of the paper.
On Saying Goodbye to Friends
Two parishioners of mine are moving to Florida this week.  I’ve known them for eighteen years and as their pastor I’ve shared in the many joys and sorrows of their family’s life. 

I’m going to miss them.

Parish ministry has a way of weaving a pastor’s heart into the fabric of many families’ lives and, in turn, they become part of the tapestry that is the pastor’s life.  Or perhaps a scrappy quilt is a better image here.  In a faith community God sews together all shapes and colors and patterns of folks, proving, in the warmth provided, how beauty can come from stitching together “all things counter, spare and strange.”

My friends are moving south but part of me will travel with them, my heart’s threads securely woven into the fabric of their lives.  And though they leave my parish, their story holds a lasting place in the tapestry of my ministry and memories.   We’ve been quilted together by God who fashions from our ragged remnants the beauty we’ve found in the faith that binds us.

Saying goodbye is a bittersweet moment.  All at once, our farewells conjure up the best of what we’ve shared; the troubles we’ve survived; the ways we’ve grown together; the sorrows that have tested us; the joys that have sustained us.  Our goodbyes open and revive the past as much as they bid farewell to what has been.  In this bittersweet transition we trust that in letting go what we’ve known we’ll find a way to hold dear the love our hearts need never lose.

Autumn’s a time to touch, gently, the textured fabric of our lives.  It’s a season for studying the stories in the tapestries we never cease to weave.  And in October’s chill, it’s time to bundle hearts together ‘neath the quilt of God’s divine design. 

Every year we look for fall’s beauty to temper our sadness at summer’s departure. Just so, in the changing seasons of our lives and relationships, we savor the sweetness of who we’ve been together to prepare us for how we’ll be together yet, though now in different ways.

For some, then, it’s time to say goodbye until, we pray, it’s time to meet again.

(Click on the image at the top of the post for a better look at a "scrappy quilt.")


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1 comment:

  1. Fr Austin
    Thanks for the post. I am accustomed to moving every few years in service of my country. Over the years, and especially at war, I have had to say goodbye to family and friends. This past week, I said goodbye to a dear friend - and we too were quilted together by God... I hope to see him when my earthly life ends and know he is with us in Spirit. I am a better person because of him.

    Thank you for your post


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