9 Ways to Better Goodbyes

Today included a goodbye. And I can honestly say it wasn’t sad.

Not because neither of us care. Quite the opposite. The care is selfless.

I don’t exactly know how long we’ve known each other. But what I do know is that from the very beginning we cared as much for the other as we did ourselves. That’s a rare form of rich. Golden.

Upon reflection, here are a few ways to better goodbyes. From the beginning and throughout your journey…

  • Listen deeply
  • Be available
  • Provide safety
  • Say it
  • Name it
  • Encourage
  • Reveal unseen good
  • Affirm faithful decisions
  • Celebrate what’s possible

Photo by Leon Seibert on Unsplash


“That’s All I Had”

For those who know her, you know.  More on that momentarily.

Today I wrapped up a quest to run four half marathons in eight days.  These were staged in four New England states: Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.  And I must say, the folks at Star Racing know what they’re doing.  Smooth.  Celebratory.  Friendly.  Leave no one behind.  Couldn’t have selected a better series of races to check off these four states.  Thank you, JC!

Getting to the race this morning, I wasn’t sure what to expect. One thing was certain: conditions were ideal. 45F, sunny. As for the course, JC had hinted yesterday that it might be challenging. My aches being manageable, I figured I’d use the first few miles to get familiar with the course and see how my legs were responding.

Around mile four, I was happy to realize two things. 1) JC was most likely just trying to not get my hopes up. The course was looking like the easiest of the four. 2) My legs were holding up enough for me to push.

That’s when I decided three mindsets for the last nine miles. 1) Take advantage of the cooler weather…and get done as soon as possible. 2) Take advantage of the easier course…attack within reason. 3) Don’t walk.  Unless you’re about to pass out, keep running.

Mile 10. Lord, have mercy! At the aid station, my first thought was, “Three more miles…No thank you! Seriously, 49 miles in 8 days ain’t shabby. I DON’T WANT TO GO BACK OUT!”

Fortunately, another runner who had also ran the last two days was there. We just looked at each other with a “C’mon man…we can do this!”

He walked/ran those last miles. I looped self-talk, “You are not walking! Just because he is, don’t!”

When I crossed the finish mat, I said, “That’s all I had.” True words.

More true words: I don’t get all the credit. I  could give credit to many things and people. But on this Mother’s Day, I must acknowledge that without the model of Lola Gregory as my mother it’s hard to believe I’d have the stuff to go after and accomplish something like this. If you know her, you know.

If you know her from the Illinois farm life, you know.

If you know her from the Chattanooga starting-a-family-of-four-with-seminary-student-husband life, you know.

If you know her from the Gadsden let’s-start-a-school-while-growing-a-church life, you know.

If you know her from the Thomasville I’m-going-to-finish-raising-these-kids-alone-in-a-new-town-working-a-new-job life, you know.

If you know her from the Murfreesboro one-daughter-still-home-in-another-new-town-working-another-new-job life, you know.

If you know her from the Tallahassee let’s-finish-this-work-thing life, you know.

Before I knew anything about determining mindsets mid-race, she’d become an expert in it. Although she thinks this week’s feat was a tad crazy, she gets the most credit for instilling in me the determination to cross a finish line saying, “That’s All I Had.”

To the best model I’ve had on finishing the race set before her, Happy Mother’s Day!

God Is Saying Something

I’m not sure what’s going on. Maybe God is just saying, “I see you.”

I altered my plans for tomorrow morning by leaving for Vermont this afternoon. Tomorrow will be much better survived because of it.

I booked an Airbnb in Tunbridge, so I only drive 40 minutes to the start line in the morning. Bearable. What I didn’t know when I booked it and started on my drive was the following:

  • I’d pass signs for the birthplaces of two notable religious figures.
  • When I stopped for gas and food it was 5PM. The Congregational Church bells across the street started playing the hymn Softly and Tenderly. The lines of the chorus start, “Come Home, Come Home.” Again, it was 5PM.
  • My Airbnb host is a college track coach. He lives in the mountains. I can hear water running down the mountainside from my room window.

God is probably saying something more like, “Good thing I gave you common sense, and you decided to use it.”

Just for you, Sharon
Coach Bob’s yard
Maybe these guys can “run with me” in the morning (Photo in the room).
All the sounds of the mountainside

You’ve Got Ink

A couple of weeks ago the devotional read during our staff meeting asked an interesting question: How do you view a pen that has ran out of ink?

The obvious answer is it’s no longer useful. File 13. A pen without ink is useless, right?

True. But another view gives us a more life-giving response. In an inanimate way, what if we viewed that pen as having given all it had? Yes, it ran out. But what if instead of only discarding it since it no longer can give what it once did we acknowledged all that it did faithfully give.

An alternate perspective from a simple life routine. Appreciate the pen for what it did instead of what it no longer can.

Pretty sure I’ve blogged about this before, but it brings to mind our need to maintain balance between being filled and pouring out. Unlike the pen, we don’t want to completely deplete ourselves. To serve community well requires all of us to pour out, which requires us to steward how we are being filled. It is a constant process. With great attention, it is a thing of beauty.

So let’s check ourselves. Right now as you read this, how much “ink” do you have left? Where/how/when do you best get refilled? Which parts of that does your calendar contain between now and Monday?

One more thing. Most likely you’ve been doing quite a bit of pouring out this month-a lot of ink has been flowing. Take a moment to remember where it flowed, what that did for you/others/God, and the story that ink wrote because you allowed it to flow.

TAKEAWAY: You’ve got ink to steward. Be Filled & Pour.

Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash

Cape Cod Beauty

I’ve been granted the pleasure of appreciating Cape Cod since Sunday. If you know the area, then you’ll recognize the names Mashpee, Falmouth, Hyannis, and Dennis. These have been my viewpoints. I could be here another month and still have unexplored areas, I’m convinced. What a treasure!

In my exploring today, I grabbed a few images. They include a quick stop at Howes Beach in Dennis, a fascinating walk through Cape Cod Museum of Art, and peculiar trees yards from my timeshare unit deck. Here they are with simple observations.

Looking out on Cape Cod Bay from the top of the dune walkway.
If I came here often, Howes Beach would be my beach of choice.
A deliberate choice I made earlier this year within my theme of “rich” is to visit art galleries and museums wherever I travel. This museum exudes beauty, particularly with their sculptures.
Guess what this is made of? Steel! Blows my mind!
Had to check out this tree that’s puzzled me looking through the woods out my slider. No idea what’s the story, but there are some life applications, to be sure. Here’s a different view:
Imagine the story one of the museum art exhibitors could tell with this wood!
Speaking of a story, this view caught my eye this afternoon. Looks like a Marvel Hero pierced this tree with another tree’s limb.

Tomorrow I leave for another New England state. If I never make it back, thank you Cape Cod for all your images of beauty.

Falling Cherry Blossoms

Last March I posted a blog referencing Makoto Fujimura. He’s become a staple for me to follow-podcast episodes, videos, books, etc. A few months ago I started reading his book Silence and Beauty, where he goes in depth to analyze the book I mentioned in the previous blog post and its place in Japanese art and history. I finished reading it on a plane ride Saturday.

I’m glad I took my time reading this book. The slower read allowed for his words and thoughts to breathe and to sink. What I enjoyed most about this form of Fujimura’s art was how he chose to build toward the ending. His final chapter, Mission Beyond the Waves, overflowed with images and challenges that perfectly summarized his message of silence and beauty.

The image that most caught my attention was his imagery and symbolism of falling cherry blossoms. “In Japan of old, cherry blossoms are considered most beautiful when they are falling.” He penned that following this quote by former archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams:

Our voyages are all about loss and death. At the moment of our death, which could be any moment, how is my mortality to be made fruitful in the life of another? How may my loss and my suffering become a Word to others? The ultimate question that any of us, or any art, can ask is this: “How may I die generously?”

Meditation on Death

If indeed cherry blossoms are most beautiful when they fall, they are most beautiful when they are broken and completely sacrificed. Fujimura’s challenge is for us all to be generous. Generosity in our faith and in our acts “can be a sacramental act to bridge the divide and brokenness created in society.”

What generous act are you prompted to complete? How can your faith assist you? What beauty is coming when you offer your creations?

Photo by Raimond Klavins on Unsplash