by Jim Dant

I LEFT THE AIRPORT…in Atlanta leaving twenty-one friends behind.  My departure might be better described as having ‘slunk away.’ We had spent a wonderful time of pilgrimage together in Israel.  We had enjoyed meals and prayers and conversations and worship.  I felt cloe to each of these persons – some more than others.  But when it came time to say goodbye, I found the edges of the crowd, shook a couple of hands, hugged a couple of necks and quietly made my way to the door…trying to be unnoticed…   

I LEFT THE LOBBY…of the hotel in Houston.  A friend escorted me to the taxi that would shuttle me to the airport.  I said a quick goodbye, hopped in the cab and rode away.  Later, my friend told me I never looked back…

I LEFT MARIETTA…and moved to Baxley, Georgia.  For months, I had no contact with the friends  I had left behind.  Finally, one friend called and said, “You didn’t just say goodbye, you amputated us!”  He then added, “I’m not going to let you drop our friendship by the wayside.”  We talked this past Friday…

I HAVE ALWAYS…hated goodbyes.  I’m assuming it is the result of parents and stepparents and foster parents and pseudo parents coming in and out of my life so often as a child.  I unintentionally learned to hold loosely to the people in my life.  I developed a habit of letting go too soon and too completely…

OUR GOODBYE…will be hard, but I’m convinced a bit more healthy.  Boundaries will be established to make room for another minister.  Contact will be less frequent as we tend life in new ways.  But we will not ignore the bonds that have been created through life shared in God’s kingdom.  There are too many memories and too many moments to ignore.  We are simply saying goodbye to a season…not to one another…and that feels right and good and healthy…