When I first moved to the Tri-Cities 17 years ago, I heard many stories of “Termination Winds” that sent people packing from Hanford’s grinding dust bowl.
Turns out, a lot of people stayed and made home and life in the desert. That’s what my family did for the past 17 years after receiving a robust “Hello” from many who are now neighbors, friends and parishioners.
Now it’s time to say goodbye.
We will be moving on to our next assignment, not unlike many other Tri-Citians who have come and gone. “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens … a time to plant and a time to uproot” (Ecclesiastes 2b NIV). This is the way of life.
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It is, of course, customary for us to say GOODBYE for a variety of reasons on a daily basis.
People say things like “See you later,” “Talk to you soon” and “Have a great day!” But when it comes to something more significant, something life-altering, like the death of a loved one, the moving out of children, an armed service deployment or retirement after a long career, we have to ask, “How does love say goodbye in such circumstances?”
As always — the only way anything meaningful is ever spoken is by courage, faith and vulnerability! This is the spirit within which love speaks.
Love also uses a certain approach to final goodbyes (and hellos). It is always spoken with gratitude for the past and hope for the future! This is heaven’s vernacular.
It’s been said, “The most painful goodbyes are the ones that are never said and never explained” (author unknown).
True love always risks the hard work of saying goodbye (and hello) in a healthy way. Trouble is, most of life’s meaningful goodbyes are incredibly difficult if not emotionally painful! I love how A.A. Milne, author of Winnie the Pooh, puts it: “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
Goodbyes can be terribly difficult. But when they are, it means that we have been deeply and profoundly blessed!
The Bible reminds us that God promises to watch over all of our comings and goings (Psalm 121:8). Here’s how we should respond to these sacred passages: Holding gratitude for the past, hope for the future, celebrating the value added to our lives, remembering the blessings imparted and ascribing significant value to the meaning we have experienced together!
In just a few months, my wife and I will be leaving the Tri Cities for our new ministry assignment. We are flooded with emotions, memories, grief, uncertainty, joy, gratitude and unalterable, unshakeable confidence that Jesus, the Lord of heaven and earth, will guide and lead us into the next chapter of our lives.
We want to take this opportunity to say “Goodbye, Tri Cities!” You have loved us well. You educated, nurtured and raised our children to be outstanding citizens. You gave us wonderful neighbors and amazing collegial support in the pastoral ministry and in education (my wife’s vocation).
This region is a place where many hellos and goodbyes are spoken frequently. May you continue to do life well together as you grow and expand to become a major metropolitan area.
May you never forget what makes for a wonderful community: gratitude for the past and hope for the future!
Rev. David Parker is lead pastor at Central United Protestant Church in Richland. Questions and comments should be directed to editor Lucy Luginbill in care of the Tri-City Herald newsroom, 333 W. Canal Drive, Kennewick, WA 99336. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.