Do you have a leaving ritual?
Ours began with my grandparents, Paul and Isabel. Whenever we’d leave their home they’d stand, hands on the hood of our car, smiling at us through the windshield. Then, with 5 or 6 steps, they’d “push” our car down the driveway. When they released their hands, we’d see them wave until we were out of their sight.
My husband and I have continued this send off for those we love, but I realize as I write this that it’s been awhile. Maybe that’s because Covid has stymied our visits. Regardless, it comes to mind now.
Last week I was steeping myself in the Scripture story found in Mark 4:35-41. It tells of the time when Jesus, after teaching a crowd on the seashore, suggested to the disciples they get into the boat and go to the other side. And yep, it’s the story where a storm formed, Jesus was asleep in the boat, and the disciples were terrified.
In the past, I’ve always found myself somewhere on the boat in this story, caught up in the storm. But this time, to my surprise, I was among those on what I call the sending shore, peering after the departing ones.
Tears sprang to my eyes with the sensation of someone/thing leaving me, and I wept with the pain of goodbyes through the years. I then found myself in yet another story, relating to yet another experience of goodbye – this time it was with the apostle Paul’s friends as they stood on a sending shore of their own. It’s recorded for us in Acts 20:36-38:
“Then Paul went down on his knees, all of them kneeling with him, and prayed. And then a river of tears. Much clinging to Paul, not wanting to let him go. They knew they would never see him again – he had told them quite plainly. The pain cut deep. Then, bravely, they walked him down to the ship.”
Bravely, they walked him down to the ship (cue the weeping?).
Have you been there? On this sending shore?
Sometimes we can accompany people only so far on their journeys. Then we release. We trust. We know Jesus is with them and will see them through. There may be stormy seas and tumultuous times ahead for them, yes, and we release them even to this – to the darkness of the unknown, the power of the deep, and the comfort & care of Christ with them.
I’m all too familiar with the clinging, the crying, the not wanting to let go. But trained by my grandparents, I put my hands on the bow of the boat and step into the water. Tentatively pushing the boat out to the depths I whisper through my tears, “Go with God, go with God.”
Jesus, in the boat with my loves, turns to me and catches my eye.
Daughter, he says, concerning those with him, I will never, under any circumstances desert them, give them up, or leave them without support. I will not forsake them or relax my hold on them. I am their helper in time of need.
(adapted from Hebrews 13:5-6 Amplified)
I trust you, I whisper.
Then I release my hands from the boat and bravely wave as they leave my sight.
The Sending Shore: Our Little Life Words of the week.
- Who or what is asking for your release?
- Make my grandparents happy by adopting our leaving ritual?.
- For a companion in the releasing, I recommend the book: Praying Our Goodbye’s
- Engage in imaginative prayer as you “bravely walk” to the sending shore. Who or what climbs into the boat and begs your blessing?
- Our song of the week is: How to Say Goodbye by Michael W. Smith (have tissues handy?).
- When I am afraid I will trust in You.
For the past 4 years I’ve been accompanying some things on a long, slow walk to shore’s edge. I stand here now, feeling the water lap at my feet, and I know it’s finally time. We’ve arrived and are standing on the sending shore. So much grace & peace to you if you find yourself in a similar space.