The Thing Is...

This morning was our last worship time together as a school, and we had Brad Owens leading us. Brad is a musician who has spent quite a bit of time with YWAM and has recently moved to Lancaster to work on the soundtrack for the Sex+Money documentary (find out more at sexandmoneyfilm.com), so in addition to his leading worship, Jeremy also asked him to share one or two of his own songs. Two lines from one of the songs especially hit home. It's a song about a man who has lost a woman to another man, but the kind of bittersweet pain expressed is so much broader than just that.

Holding on is painful,
Letting go is moreso...

How else to capture the dichotomy of saying goodbye? In high school, it wasn't so difficult. These were people I was stuck with, and I was too selfish to care too much about 75% of my class. At IMPACT, it was so much harder. We'd fought through some hard things together, or even if we hadn't really applied ourselves to fighting, at the very least we'd lived and grown together, experienced unique chunks of the world and slices of life together. That counted for something. And now, I find myself at the end of dts, saying goodbye one more time. If anything, my aversion to 'goodbye' has only grown with each successive year. Perhaps you might see this as a good thing- it suggests that my capacity for love has grown also.

But I still don't like it.

Even while we were in Cambridge, I was struggling with that gnawing beast, attached as it already was to my heart. Lewis once said that "the only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell." While we were in Oxford, I mentioned a little bit of that sense to Tyler, and he pointed out that for all of us here (I speak with reasonable hope), even if I don't see anyone again in this lifetime, that's only a matter of, at best, 80 years. But I told him that 80 years was too much, that I would still be sad to miss that part of his or anyone's life. Being a smartass, he asked me if I was hitting on him, but he missed the point. I can only repeat last summer's refrain from Edna St. Vincent Millay, seeing every goodbye as a death no less solemn or worth mourning:

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

{from Dirge Without Music}

Still, I have to let go. Otherwise, I can't move on and into the wonderful things that God has for me. Already, I can hear the distant music floating through the crack in the door that I'm about to pass through, and it's inviting, golden, welcoming. But I hear also the laughter, the songs, the tears, the hugs, the exhausted exhortations of the past eight months like a symphony drawing to a close. Not even the final crescendo now, but the last sweet strains. And this song is no less valuable to me. The question then remains, how do I not callous myself to fight the wounds of separation? How do I set my face forward when it lingers backward? How do I, who so loathes the word, safely say goodbye?

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