In another lifetime, when I was thought I was right more often, and things affected my thoughts more, I said, “goodbye.”
I said this to a group of kids, adults, and to the place where I worked. All of these were somehow encountered in the United Methodist Church. All of these also, were related to my entire life, filled with considerations for, and thoughts of, the divine. I came through the Southern Baptist tradition. I came with experience working with children and youth.
If you are going to say goodbye to all of this, you really should consider the benefits of a party. My “last farewell” to all those that I had grown to love, was given at a pizza place, with an arcade full of games and pinball machines. All of those I worked with knew I was leaving. None of them deserved to worry for themselves, or me, as a result. We had a party.
Perhaps they gave me gifts and maybe I gave them all gifts. It was so very long ago. I drive by that particular church from time to time and sigh. When I was there, it was a small country church, which happened to be settled in the middle of high end home development. From the outside, it appears that development changed the church, rather than the other way around. I always thank God for my timely departure.
But here is the good news in all of that sad story. They said farewell to what they knew also. That church is what that church is now. I am what I am now. Those kids and those adults have grown older, as have I, and hopefully some are better, for my having been with them for a time. They changed me… and we said farewell.
No more church service each Sunday. No more caring for what kids think or how they develop into adulthood and no more conversations with parents about their concerns for the “kids today.” Never again to interpret what some say the divine means when it says this or that.
Fast forward thirty years. Every Sunday morning there is a new “spiritual” blog, I help 84 team members to train and develop (most of them under the age of 21)during the week, yesterday a concerned parent and I spoke for a time over the phone, and all I wonder is what the divine means through it all. Perhaps this is my purpose and the medium does not matter. Maybe I am stubborn and have found a new way to live my old life.
What have I created? Has the universe tricked me? Was I meant to do these things regardless of how I earned a living? All of these are valid questions.
Here is what makes it all so different for me. Without the constraints of religion, there is more freedom to observe Source working outside of certain confines. Without the pressure of having to teach belief, there is room to show compassion. And with the opportunity to meet and learn from so many people, it is easy to say farewell to what I know each day. What I know of tradition, career, belief, practice, and so many other things, are able to disappear each evening.
The Buddha would recommend letting go. I recommend taking every experience in and squeezing it, like you would an orange if you needed orange juice. After that, by all means, say farewell and let it go. The church would recommend giving 10 percent of every experience and financial gain to them. I suggest giving what you have (love, compassion, kindness) away in thought, and if necessary, in action. The Zen master might suggest we focus on breath to relieve the chaos of thought. I recommend we magnify our focus on what we think, into either a great dream, or a great deed.
Above all of these givings of advice, might be that you smile in the face of trials, but also, to the one you see in the mirror. That you give yourself a break from worry and responsibility. Maybe do the same for others when they least expect that type of offering. Think on the good things more than the reasons things look bleak.
Take that advice or leave it, they are only suggestions.
Here is some good news to get you started. The sun will come up tomorrow. Your next breath will come. The machine you are currently using to offer hugs will eventually fail, but the you that is you will pass into another experience with others that have done the same. The best news is this… you have more to do with where and what you are than you might think… as do I. But we always must be will to say farewell to what we think we know. This is how new and good things come to us.
And if there is anything real in this world, it is love. We must find that love inside ourselves, for ourselves, and for others. And if there is anything that this love produces, it is peace. There will not be peace in the world until there is peace within our hearts. This peace is evident in the smallest of actions. Stay strong and know you make the difference in the big picture, with each thought and action, in the part of this dream you play.