It is difficult to say goodbye, especially to the volunteer team that recently ended their year of service last week at Savio House. They were a team that was rich in energy and in commitment to work with young people. But above all they were honest and real and they drew the best out of a community of older religious. They were also ready to finish a tough year. We took balloons up the hill and released them to signify the letting go of another year. Releasing the balloons was significant but it was also easy. Letting go is not so easy in practice because we establish ties that tangle us together. Some of those ties need to be held on to and others released and it s not always possible to discover which is which.
I too am moving on at the end of this year and that will include hanging on to somethings and some people and letting other things and other people go. How do I choose? In some ways this just happens, people move alongside you and then move like cards shuffled in a pack. Some people are suited to me and we get on well, some are of a different suit and some seem to have a higher or lower value than I do. This regular shuffling is a challenge to change and at the same time a liberation. Without this shuffling the game of life would become predictable and stale.
The closeness we feel to others is for better or worse a sacred space for unspoken learning. When those who were close move away the lesson is over and yet the awareness created by each relationship remains. For better or worse I carry something of their spiritual dna. I am spiral bound into their lives and in that sense I can never let them go because they are part of me and I of them. When I think of Sheffield now it will always be coloured by the personality of two of last years volunteers. When I play certain hymns it will awaken a moment or a mood that reminds me of what he have shared.
Such memories of past links and shared experiences are gifts that keep on giving. They cannot and should not be let go of and released because they are the ties of love and affection that bind us into what the church calls the communion of saints. In the end they are in loving kindness all that will endure. These ties therefore extend beyond life as we know it into an eternal belonging in the relationships of Father Son and Spirit.
A popular song has these lines "How heavy the empty heart how light the heart that's full" It is a reminder that we cannot empty our hearts and move on but rather fill our hearts with what is good from the past as we move on and carry it all as a memory that brings lightness and warmth into a new beginning,