God’s hope gets us through goodbyes | Faithful Living

It was from the comfort of my front porch, where I sat in the sun for a few minutes one afternoon this week, that I observed our cat do the very thing I hate most: hunt. Although he spends the majority of his life inside, the sun was so warm he meowed until I finally let him out. Within minutes, I noticed him dart from the edge of the wooded area that surrounds my home. It was the tiny form of a wild baby bunny hanging from his mouth that prompted me to leap across the lawn in his direction.

Startled, he dropped the bunny into my cupped hands, and back across the lawn I hurried to begin triage in my kitchen.

Countless times I have held baby bunnies in my hands over the years. It’s what happens when you live at the end of a country road in the Pacific Northwest. I grabbed a clean, old towel and threw it in the dryer to warm it up. I then hurried over to a closet to retrieve a basket that would become his place of hospice. Gently, I wrapped him up and nestled him in his temporary bed, minutes later checking for evidence of injury as bunny skin is paper-thin and easily pierced. Fortunately, he appeared to be in good shape and after time to recuperate in the warm, quiet of the basket, I returned him to the edge of the forest where he was discovered.

That goodbye time of year is drawing near: The time baby birds fly from nests and bunnies hop away. The time pledges of lifelong loyalties are made as high school seniors devise plans that include new schools, jobs, or military service. When Navy families begin to talk of “pack up” schedules.

For the first 30 year of my life, I had little occasion to say goodbye. I lived in a civilian community where people rarely transferred. I’ve lived here on Whidbey Island for 23 years and while Oak Harbor does a fine job of hosting its transient Navy residents, I have been saying goodbye to friends and neighbors ever since.

English novelist George Eliot once wrote, “Only in the agony of parting do we look into the depths of love.” That sentiment helped me this week as I checked Facebook postings to see how a childhood friend is doing as she takes her last walk here on earth. Our shared faith gives me hope that this is merely a temporary good bye as we have the hope of heaven to help ease the pain. But there is no avoiding pain and loss. At these moments I turn to my Bible and friends who share my faith.

I also know that just as God draws close to me, He will draw close to those I love and care for. And when distance, as well as limited amounts of time and money, prevent me from spending time with friends in transition, I can do something very positive for everyone: I can pray for them, call, text and email.

If you are saying goodbye this week, perhaps you’d like to join me in praying this prayer: “May the Lord bless you and keep you; May the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; May He lift up His countenance on you and give you peace. Amen.”


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