In “Pervasive … Getting your mind around life …,”I mentioned a number of people with whose families I have walked through the valley of death. You never know just how you will respond emotionally to a sudden death. I felt myself feeling the way I had a few years ago when in the space of eight months we lost young folks a the ages of 18, 7 and 3. During those days I confess to feelings I had never had before. I had read about depression and even helped people wrestle through that very difficult experience. To that point I had never been able to say with any kind of integrity, “I know how you feel.” So I didn’t.
After about five months of feeling as though life may be a never ending fog I looked around for someone with whom I could discuss these new found uneasy feelings. During the week past week I felt the same feelings lurking. I recalled a book the late Mike Yaconelli mentioned in a talk given at the First National Pastor’s Convention in San Diego in 2001. He read from Robert Benson’s, Between the Dreaming and the Coming True,
I would almost rather we had died that day
than to have found ourselves here,
lost somewhere between the dreaming
and the coming true.
I picked up Benson’s book later that year and read through his story of battling depression. Last week I picked it up again. I found his description of the “hello” that follows the “good-bye” to remind the reader we cannot say, “hello,” if we have not said “good-bye.” Setting up his thoughts of loss that often precedes depression he wrote,
It then follows that forgiveness is not much of a concept without something for which to forgive and be forgiven. Healing has no meaning in the absence of illness. Peace is no treasure at all to those who have known no war and no strife. Saying hello has no joy in it without the saying of good-bye. (Benson,p.38)
We said good-bye to Lyle last week as we have said good-bye to many whom we love. Our understanding of the hope of Jesus of resurrection, and so our hope of resurrection makes the good-bye the antecedent to a soon coming hello. Benson describes his thoughts,
I am coming to believe that the thing God said just before “Let there be light” was “Good-bye, dark.” And that Noah could not say hello to the rainbow without first having said good-bye to the world as it disappeared beneath the waters of the flood. And that something deep and mysterious about saying good-bye from the bottom of a pit made the hello that Joseph spoke to his father all those years later all the more wondrous. “Good-bye, Egypt” turned out to be another way for the Israelite to say “Hello, Canaan.”
Good-bye, Jesus of Nazareth,” whispers Mary through her tears at the foot of the cross on Friday afternoon. “Hello, Lord of the Universe,” she murmurs to the one she mistakes for a gardener, on Sunday morning. (Benson,p.38-39)
He concludes the chapter,
Until there is good-bye, there is no hello. Until there is a journey away, there is no coming home.(Benson,p.40)