When I was a kid, my favorite season of the year was (of course) Summer. I still like Summer, but my favorite season is Autumn: the colors, the smells, the activities—the feelings. Yes, feelings. In 1988, Joyce Rupp wrote a book called Praying our good-byes. It’s about turning endings into spiritual experiences. In the book, she discusses “the ache of Autumn in us.”
I get it. There’s something about Autumn that has been saturated with a certain sadness for me: having to say good-bye to the fullness of nature, having to say good-bye to all the outdoor activities of Summer, having to say good-bye to family and friends to begin another year at college. Difficult, but necessary.
Difficult, but necessary. As Rupp herself concludes, we have to say good-bye in order to be able to say a new hello. This, of course, is a very Christian way of looking at life. For us, the pivotal “good-bye” is the one Jesus had to say to this world (and this world had to say to Jesus). It was as painful and ugly and tragic as a good-bye could be. Still, we call it “good” (as in Good Friday) because it led to the “hello” of resurrection. “Hello” to new life for Jesus, “hello” to new life for us all—salvation.
Now, it’s our turn. Jesus set the pattern of life for us Christians by showing us that despair turns to hope, darkness turns to light, good-bye turns to hello. We must keep the belief that death is never the end of the story—not for Jesus, not for us—at the center of our lives. That’s important for us to remember, because we experience endings all the time: seasons change, our bodies change, our relationships change.
Change can be hard. Change, when we let it, can also bring us new life.