Goodbye

photo by Norma Desmond.flickr.creative commons I had coffee with a friend a week or two ago. We talked deeply and laughed and sipped excellent coffee. We danced around something I know to be true: he is moving away.

I don't know what to do with goodbye. I've cried on my last day at jobs that I was more than ready to leave. I cried until I was sick as my family drove away from my college graduation with all of my dorm life packed into a rental car. When I finished the Boxcar Children, I sobbed as though my heart would break.

Sometimes, I think that it would be easier not to get attached to anything, or anyone. Then, I could remain impassive, unmoved by the changes and chances of this life. When I begin to think like this, I remind myself of this quote from C.S. Lewis in The Four Loves:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket - safe, dark, motionless, airless - it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”

So long as I allow my heart to go out to people, to be moved, by God and my neighbor, I am at risk for damage. But if I don't allow myself to feel deeply for God and others, I will cease to be effective, I will cease to be myself.

What to do?

I've been thinking a lot about Heaven lately, pondering a place which Jesus is currently preparing, for me, and the whole host of His saints. I don't know a lot about Heaven, swathed as it is in mystery, but I do know this: there will be no more tears. God Himself will wipe them away.

As I prepare for this goodbye to my friend, bittersweet as they come, I am reminded of the roots of the word "goodbye." In the late 1500s, the phrase "God be with you" became shortened to a greeting said when leaving another.

In church, I respond weekly to "The Lord be with you," saying, "and also with you."

As I watch my friend go on his way, I have a built in reminder that the same God who stays with him, is also with me, and as he echoes, I realize that in Heaven, goodbyes will not be necessary, not only because no one is leaving, but because I will no longer need reminders that God is present.