I believe goodbye is an opportunity. It is probably the most under experienced spiritual moment of the human lifetime. People tend to stay task oriented up the last minute. Or, they leave early, before the actual end of things. Or, they distract themselves with things like, “Oh we’ll see you soon.” That is because these things are all easier than actually saying, seeing and feeling the self, the other and the good-bye.
Instead, I think that goodbye can be a passionate time. One of the great pleasures of goodbye is the releasing of roles and expectations based on roles. The shower curtain of worldly identity can be dropped. The joy of one soul sharing with another, authentically, can be experienced.
Concurrently, the river of life can spill over you like a beautiful current of rushing water, glittering with the rainbows of color which we all reflect into the world. I experienced this at the church that I am leaving at the end of June. My job in the religious education department is ending. I was at a family movie night last week. Parents and children came and watched the movie together. The children got up and down for popcorn and lemonade. They ran to their parent for a moment of comfort, and then ran back to the sleeping bag to be with their buddies. The movie played on.
But, the best show was the beauty of the river of human beings all around me. I stopped watching the movie to enjoy the families. I felt my love for them in my heart. I felt the pinprick of tears of anticipated loss. I felt the joy and the love between parent and child. I dropped the shower curtain of my professional identity for a while. I let myself feel the love that exuded from every soul. It filled the room.
I even have a name for the passionate goodbye. I call it “good-bye-ing”. It is a spiritual practice of the soul. When you are “good-bye-ing” you are involved in acknowledging that the goodbye is happening. You express feelings as they come. You check on unfinished things and bring them up and work them through. You express joyous things that you have not said. You release the constructs which have held you to this person – whether they are job roles, or relationship roles, or proximity roles – like being a neighbor. You see, hear and feel that person. You stay until the end. You embrace the good -bye.