A Season of Goodbyes
This week, I bid goodbye to a truly remarkable group of students. They are kind and curious, full of heart and humility. The core of the group came to us in the first full year of our school’s operation, and they have been instrumental in us becoming who we are today. In my career, no group of students has taught me more about perseverance, humility, and chivalry than these, and I look upon them with nothing but delight, joy, and deep, deep love.
As such, this year has been both beautiful and painful, as I have taught their Great Books class and asked them to engage in a long goodbye. They have proven themselves equal to the task, approaching each class session with focus and wonder, working through their disagreements and coming alongside one another in times of difficulty and pain. In the last three years, they have become a family, and in so doing they have invited the rest of our students into the family they’ve made—one characterized by a passionate pursuit of the Logos through an unswerving dedication to the dialectic. They have completed the race well and have given me a year’s worth of discussion that I will treasure in my heart for the rest of my life. Even—or should I say especially—in saying goodbye, they have continued to produce wonderful things for this community.
Because of all of this I have been emotional and introspective throughout the year—realizing that each thing I do with our seniors, I will be doing with them for the last time. To watch them discuss is a delight. To watch them dance is pure joy. To watch them love and care for one another fills me with deep contentment. I am saying goodbye to these things, and they are taking on new meaning. I am remembering what it means to say goodbye well. I am remembering “Maranatha.”
During my senior year of college, my discussion group met to discuss the book of Revelation. I don’t recall much of the content of that discussion, but I remember what I took away from it: during seasons of goodbye, the Christian can take comfort in praying “Maranatha”—Lord, come quickly. Though all will fade and pass away, though my college discussion group dissembled and went off to live their lives in different places around the world, though many of my teachers and mentors have grown old and gone to see the face of God—I can still pray “Maranatha.”
I keep “Maranatha” with me when things get difficult—when I miss the various homesteads I’ve made with my loved ones throughout my life. In building strong communities in high school and in college, my loved ones and I made things that we’d inevitably leave behind. The leaving is painful—it tastes of loss and of missing pieces, of a good, good thing that we no longer possess. It feels like I’ve left part of myself behind in every place I’ve loved. And so, I pray “Maranatha.” Lord, come quickly and bring an end to all goodbyes. Make sad things untrue and preserve the good things that we, your Church, have built.
C.S. Lewis reassures us of this.
“Why!” exclaimed Peter. “It’s England. And that’s the house itself—Professor Kirk’s old home in the country where all our adventures began!”
“I thought that house had been destroyed,” said Edmund.
“So it was,” said the Faun. “But you are now looking at the England within England, the real England just as this is the real Narnia. And in that inner England no good thing is destroyed.”
When the Lord returns, He brings with Him the new Earth—the real Earth. And in that inner Earth no good thing is destroyed. We can live again in the good communities that we’ve made, and the homes we’ve loved will be preserved. “Maranatha.” Lord come quickly and take us home.
Thus, as I say goodbye to our seniors, I find “Maranatha” constantly on my lips and in my heart. The Lord will return one day, and I will be together with these students once again. In the meantime, we’ve loved the Good, True, and Beautiful together. We’ve followed the Logos wherever He led. We’ve said goodbye well. And these students are ready for the rest of their lives.
The Logos is the same whether He’s here or in California, at UT or Rice, Baylor or Biola. They mayest follow Him. There are more communities to be built, more homesteads to be settled, and more friends to love. Those blessings await our students, and our students are ready to make the most of them. And through these things, our students mayest build truly beautiful lives for themselves and for those lucky enough to know them. And someday—when we’ve followed the Logos home and reached the end of endings—we’ll be together again.