April 14, 2006


A meditation on John 19:38-42

I notice how poorly we do at nearly all goodbyes
How we hem, haw, when the leaving-time comes
How we skirt the fervent flames of our exits like
Misaligned shuttles bouncing off the atmosphere

We are not good with this moment of departure
We prefer the new warmth of a greeting embrace
But can we ever really offer our true welcome
If we are not willing also to offer our goodbye

And so some simply disappear from among us
They are afraid and they go; we afraid, they die
Either way, words are not said, truth not spoken
Our hearts, a bit more hardened, closed, as result

It seems most of your folks did not see this day
The ending of your god-filled life coming along
Most scattered, stumbled, leaving you all alone
With no space for goodbye, godspeed, godbless

Not all fled, however: our patron saints of dignity
Joseph, with his tomb; Nicodemus, his testimony
From where did they summon each brave goodbye
As they laid eternal life, now dead, in a sepulcher

This is the part that rips us asunder: the ending
They, we, cannot imagine life beyond the now
Could they seal off you who had opened them up
How could they walk beyond this tomb and pole

Your cross is nothing if not a hoist for a goodbye
The terminus for three years of your saying hello
Hello to God’s partnered people, lost in their fear
Hello to God’s kingdom, inbreaking among them

Hellos are done now; good friday is for good byes
To those few brave folk who remained to the end
In the airy giving up of your coming-down-spirit
They swear they heard a breathy earnest farewell

How did you get this out, your crucified goodbye
We need to know, we need your living assistance
We flee from gatherings, gurneys, gravesides, grief
No spirit in us like yours to say (y)our loving words

Perhaps at the start saying your strong father-hello
Meant at the end you could offer your son-goodbye
Teach us to believe in God who always makes a way
Teach us how to depart, to go on, to bury, to trust

Teach us to say goodbye,
secure in your Easter-hello