I cannot stop reflecting how wonderful last weekend was having our family together. The celebrations and outings were many and being able to reconnect with those I love, face-to-face, was a true blessing. It is amazing to me how quickly the joyful times went and how long the times of concern (mostly travels) lasted. I adored the moments I got to spend with these people so precious to me and waited with anxiety until I knew they had returned safely to their homes. They all did—albeit a long delay for some due to airline issues. But all were safe!
The toughest part for me was saying “goodbye”.
What are our last words and actions when we depart from a loved one? Is it the ones we want to remember, or perhaps more importantly, the last we want them to remember? Typically, it is a hug and a “I love you”; then there is the obligatory “have a safe trip”, “let me know when you get home”, and “can’t wait to see you again”. As long as these are sincere actions and words this is a good thing!
In churches and synagogues across the world one of the most recognizable Scriptures is Numbers 6:24-26, also known as the Aaronic Blessing, which reads, “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” Many have this in some sort of graphic where the people depart as a “goodbye”. Others use it as a benediction at the end of the worship service again as a way of sending the people out into the world.
If we break down this prayer, it models our goodbyes to our loved ones:
- The Lord bless you and keep you: We want them to be safe, content, happy.
- The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you: We smile on our loved ones, even when we have tears of missing them and hurting when they hurt.
- The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace: We look forward to the next great chapters in their lives and the next time we can be with them to share in the joy.
We end our prayers to the Heavenly Father with “Amen”. We say it thinking that it is our “goodbye” to God. But, God is not finished with us—because the ancient words that we have translated to “Amen” really are a declaration of affirmation! “Amen” and “Goodbye” are pronouncements of our love and faith in others.
So the next time you say goodbye to a loved one, instead of the impending sadness of missing them, we can take joy in the fact that it is not over yet—there are greater days to come!