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Never Saying Goodbye

September 25, 2014

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Inside the Jaffa Gate - By David's Citadel - Old City, Jerusalem

Light filters through the slits between curtains and the sound of cars traveling down Meir Gershon wakes me nearly every morning.

It’s quiet at 6:00AM. A kind of quiet usually reserved for Shabbat but, since it’s not, I know it won’t last long.

It’s in those moments I find myself reaching for my iPad and the Bible app, although the pink bible would be first choice if it wasn’t in my backpack. All the way across the room.

This morning, reading Paul’s words to the believers in Philippi, I echoed his sentiments toward the loved ones who will read these few words.

“I thank my God every time I think of you….God can testify how I long for all of you with the deep affection of the Messiah Yeshua.”

My friend, Tsh, at The Art of Simple, wrote about “How To Say Goodbye” and her wisdom resonated over the internet from where she is with her family in China, on their own journey of transition and exploration.

“Goodbyes force us to recognize a change in our path, an acknowledgment that we’re choosing (or sometimes being forced) to move away from one thing and plow in to the next. The very reason goodbyes are hard is the reason we actually need to do them well: because we’re leaving something, and if we don’t fully leave it, we can’t be fully present in the next thing.”

The boys spent all summer, to my barely concealed frustration, doing “one more goodbye” with one more friend, one more place, one more event, and I stuck my nose to the grindstone and tried to keep “my eyes on the prize”.

In so doing, I didn’t do my own goodbyes very well.

I didn’t weep at Shelia’s house when beautiful words of affirmation and love were spoken over us and I didn’t share my own overflowing heart.  I didn’t stop and go have coffee with myself or my blogg-y friends at Looney Bean to savor black brew and warm Bend sun one last time while overlooking Mirror Pond.

I didn’t sit quietly at Antioch and tuck away the laughter, the joy, and the camaraderie that bounces off the walls in the commons and sparkles through the lives of those with whom I have enjoyed living and schooling and growing for so many years.

At our going away party, inundated with more love and kindness than I could even fathom, my introverted heart pushed through the processing part of the evening and this Type A personality doubled down into information dissemination and functionality.

Until we got on that first plane and I realised something that shattered my resolve:

There are some of you I will never, ever, ever see again this side of eternity.  

Thanks to the magic of the interwebs and the gift of Facebook, I will be able to keep in touch with your lives and online personalities, but I won’t be able to touch you, hear your voice, watch your families grow, or offer comfort when life throws curveballs.

So, I’m taking this opportunity to share some goodbye memories with you:

Sit with me on Pilot Butte, overlooking the city with your face toward the West Side. See the Three Sisters on our right and Mount Bachelor rising up from deep green and crowned in glistening white.   A purply-orange blaze across the horizon spreads out the end of day and lights begin twinkling from below. Three spires of the smoke stacks at the Old Mill overlook the Deschutes River winding and twisting through town.

Now I see the desert stretching out in front of me.

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North Jerusalem looking North toward the Desert - Israel

Walk the length of the Farmer’s Market together, canvas bags on our arms, and buy a cardamom brioche from the Village Baker, a brown bag of juicy, red tomatoes from the truck by Bend Burger Company, and then wander down to Drake Park to sit on the green grass and people watch with me.   The teens, the retirees, the families mingling in this shared, common space.

It’s time to walk the Mahane Yehuda market and haggle over the price of tomatoes and find oddly shaped avocados.  To wait tiredly for the bus amidst the hustle and bustle of people all rushing to get their shopping done before the long Shabbat.

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Mehane Yehuda Market, Jerusalem Photo Credit: Isaac Stone @ www.internationalbrofari.com

There’s a deserted, left to ruin, golf course on China Hat.   Overgrown greens and long open spaces became the perfect dogwalking park.   Wisps of memory bounce around like a little blonde Chihuahua and a golden Chi-weenie as they run, wild and clumsy, over yellow grass nearly as tall as they are.   The chocolate brown and white dog with a ball in her mouth and amber eyes asking for, “Just one more throw?” makes endless loops around the pond before coming back to shake off water near you.

Instead, we are walking on stones worn smooth from the feet of millions, and curving down stone alleyways toward bright patches and ancient edifices.

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Old City - Jerusalem

Driving to Sisters, we pass the silhouette of running horses, dogs, and a backdrop of mountain beauty.   The blue of Central Oregon skies a stark contrast to puffy white clouds.   Sit next to me in the warm log cabin and river stone coffee house and lets write beautiful words, work on homeschool, drink black coffee, and hear worship music over the speakers nestled in towering shelves of coffee beans and paraphernalia.

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Photo Credit: Isaac Stone @ www.internationalbrofari.com

Spires and high rises backdropped against a rich blue sky in Jerusalem stone are the mountains here, and the coffee…  At a little cafe in the lower level of the Clal building you can get espresso and tiny pots of mint tea.

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Damascus Gate - Old City - Jerusalem

The pumpkin patch, the beauty of Lincoln City and the sweetness of our friends there, the Christmas parade, drives over Santiam Pass to the hustle and bustle of the valley, the concerts at Les Schwab…

All those places where we laughed, we talked, and we lived together are etched firmly in my mind and now it’s time for me to find new places to laugh, talk, and live.

There can be no beginnings without an ending and this last summer was more like a birth than a celebration of vision. Messy, intervals of intensity followed by moments of exhausted speculation, then…

Blinding light and everything is new and unfamiliar.

We are learning to live presently while not being afraid to cry out. We are finding God here and He is faithful.   Connecting with friends, over Skype, email, and texting while knowing that we cannot live looking backwards, as much as we would like to, is bitter and then sweet.

We have come this far because you sent us.

Your prayers, your love, your compassion, your emotional and physical support, have all converged to send us to this little apartment on Meir Gershon in Jerusalem and we cannot say enough how much we love you.

I can’t promise you we will see Pilot Butte, Drake Park, Looney Beans, or Antioch together again but I can say this confidently.

If you remain faithful to the Lord, if we remain faithful as well, we will have such a reunion.

“So my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and my crown, my dear friends, keep standing firm in union with the Lord.”

Believers never need to say the final good-bye.

We hope to see you later.

We have hope.

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  • Shelda

    I love this so much.

  • Heidi Stone

    I’m glad! 🙂 I bawled like a baby after I read it through the first time. Goodbyes are hard.

  • Robin

    Beautiful. I am horrible at goodbyes and only moderately better at “see you laters”.