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