How one ends a journey is almost more important than how one begins it. I learned this when traveling with youth. We would spend sometimes up to 9 months preparing for a 3-week trip. At the end of the trip, the youth would scatter at the parking lot or airport with their parents just as soon as they located their luggage. I soon learned to lay down the law: no one leaves before we all reconvene as a group either in the parking lot or airport to huddle up and “end” the trip and say an intentional good-bye to one another. Then they were free to head off.
In any relationship, we make mistakes or cause hurt or have disagreements or conflict. We are human after all. But when we begin well, we have time and the trust to right the “wrongs” as the relationship unfolds. It seems though, as if all of the good stuff can be erased by a “bad” good-bye. Clergy are told that after they resign from a congregation what they need to make sure of is that they have a “good good-bye.”
What is a “good good-bye?” In the palliative care and hospice field, it involves saying these four things:
- Please forgive me
- I forgive you
- Thank you
- I love you
If you have been in leadership at WUUC these past 8 years, you know that I have had to apologize or say I am sorry at the very least. And sometimes, even, “Please forgive me.” As I take my leave of you, I ask your forgiveness for all the ways in which I fell short or missed the mark or unintentionally caused hurt. In turn, I not only forgive but let go of anything that I have held onto in hurt or anger.
May we thank one another? Thank you for the chance you took on me. Thank you for all the ways we grew together. For all the ways we celebrated, worshipped, laughed, worked together, struggled together, and were faithful to UUism and WUUC together. I am so grateful for all that I have learned from you over these 8 years. Thank you for trusting me with your hearts and stories and very lives.
Somewhere in this past year I thought that I did not love you. But after a great deal of reflection I realized that that was not true. I had lost my way a bit, my vision had been clouded which was obscuring the memory and reality of my love for you as a congregation. Yes, I love you. In spite of who you are and because of who you are. I hope you can say that of me as well: that you love me in spite of who I am and because of who I am. That is the grace we can offer one another.
We have had a good run together. No one can take that away from us.
I leave you with these words from Mary Oliver:
“To be able to live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
To love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
And, when the time comes to let
to let it go.”
Namaste: The Divine within me greets the Divine within you.