Monthly Archives: September 2016

All Things End

I’ve been thinking about the end of my (professional) ministry a great deal these past few weeks. I catch myself thinking “Oh, this is the last time I will do that.” Or  realizing some things that form a part of the rhythm of my life are gone – or will be shortly.

About a month ago my wife and I went on a dinner cruise on the Ohio River. During the last hour we passed places that were a part of my life for many years but no longer are. Places that I remember fondly from childhood are not even there any more. Places we frequented no longer seem familiar. Or mine.

It struck me – when we moved to the Dayton area from Cincinnati in 2009 I grieved. I had spent my entire life in the Greater Cincinnati. But I found new memories, new friendships, a new sense of place and purpose and life. And I would grieve as much to leave Dayton now as I did to leaving Cincinnati then.

All things are transitory. Even those who spend their entire lives in the same community, the same church, the same circle of friends, the same house – one day will leave this world and leave those things behind. Most of us experience more than one such leaving as we take new jobs or  unanticipated transitions. All things end. It is a part of human existence.

Most of our endings are really preludes to beginnings. For persons of faith, even death is not an ending as much as a transition to another, more wonderful life.

I hope to end well this long – the longest – phase of life I have ever experienced (at least where work is concerned). It is bittersweet in many ways. But also the gateway to a new life and a new adventure. It can be the same for you.

While hunting for quotes on endings, I found this gem with which I leave you this Monday morning:

““There’s a trick to the ‘graceful exit.’ It begins with the vision to recognize when a job, a life stage, or a relationship is over — and let it go. It means leaving what’s over without denying its validity or its past importance to our lives. It involves a sense of future, a belief that every exit line is an entry, that we are moving up, rather than out.”

― Ellen Goodman

 

Categories: Faith Journey | 4 Comments

Dark But Not Night

Yesterday marked the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11. Our youngest child was born that February and so his entire conscious life has been lived in its shadow. Many of you, like me, can remember what you were doing and where you were as that numbing day unfolded. I remember calling Dana from my office at the church to say I had just heard that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. Such horror and sorrow that would come in the hours and days after.

I don’t have the perspective – nor the wisdom – to understand how different our nation and world are because of that day. Thousands more have died in a seemingly endless string of wars and terrorist attacks. Our collective security has risen to obsessive levels of concern and focus. That national unity that emerged in the moments after was fleeting and in some ways we are less united than I can remember. Not to mention the erosion of economic security… the loss of civility and good 0ld-fashioned manners… the temperature of our political and social debates. 9/11 may not be the direct cause of all of this darkness but its shadow falls across it all and all of the reality we live today has been shaped by it.

It is dark outside but not yet night. The same events that might lead us to despair or cynicism have led some to rise to acts of incredible heroism and sacrifice. Maniacal, evil faith has deepened the genuine faith of many. Acts of violence, collective and individual, had been answered by countless acts of compassion and love for neighbor.

I remember reading an article that argued that these dark days were an argument FOR God’s existence and providence rather than AGAINST. I wish now that I had saved it somewhere that I could lay hands on it now. He wrote that rather than asking why such things happened… we should instead ask why not more of them? Why does the world not plunge into night? Why is there not more evil – and far less good – than we see even on such days as 9/11?

Because despite our human frailty… despite, from the Christian perspective, our bent to sin and wrong… there is still a Light that shines in that darkness. There is still a Providence that seeks the good and salvation of all. However dark it may be, it is never completely night.

In his epic tale of light and dark, evil and good, J.R.R. Tolkien puts in the mouth of one his minor characters these words that seem appropriate to the day:

The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.” 

(The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, II, 6)

Categories: Faith Journey | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.