One of my closest friends is moving away. He’s not the first and he will not be the last. I was verklempt about it when he told me over coffee rather early on a Monday morning a few weeks ago. That lasted about five minutes and I’ve been annoyed about it since. I’m not sure if exasperation falls into the anger stage of grieving, but it’s where I’m at. Some of this deals with the fact that this friend is also the rector of the church I serve at. That carries with it dozens of its own implications. The most important aspect of my contention, (my personality aside) is the fact that this move will put our lives are on divergent paths. He’s moving home to South Dakota (I told him to enjoy his frozen hell) and I will remain in Idaho for the time being- that is, until I finally make my way toward the equator more permanently.
I could write paragraphs upon paragraphs on all the things that mean our lives are headed in different directions, but we all know them. Marriage and childbirth, varying opportunities, natural disasters. We may or may not keep in touch because it’s nearly impossible to keep up with everything immediately around me, so how much more difficult when separated by something like 1,300 miles? This is why I’m grumpy.
I haven’t moved away from Boise for a number of reasons, opportunity being one, but more significantly, I’m terrible at saying goodbye. I hate it. Why should friends or family part with one another when we get along so well? Because life happens. Because we’re called to other places and to do other things. I too, may end up leaving one day and how hard will it be to say goodbye to all of the people here? I can guarantee that ugly crying will ensue, when or if that day comes.
Saying “Bye, Felicia” sucks. But there is actually hope. Kind of, anyway. Lives that actually seem to be on divergent paths aren’t if we’re following Christ, being formed in his image, because He is the point at which we will all arrive someday. And as Pierre Teilhard de Chardin put it, “…everything that rises, must converge.” It will be in that great and glorious hereafter when there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain. So, we allow ourselves to mourn now, even if that does look like wanting to throat-punch those who leave us. We mourn knowing that there is hope to see our friends again in a happier place.
But if we’re honest, we still feel a little cheated about this. Jesus told the Sadducees in Matthew 22 that marriages will be dissolved in the afterlife. If such a relationship (one cleaved together by vows) no longer matters in eternity, what then will that mean for our friendships? I suppose at that point anyway, we’ll all have our eyes fixed on Jesus, so it won’t matter.