today, the goodbyes begin.
It is more than a little strange to be talking about leaving— again and again— around here because, well, just as much as this online thing is real, it’s not. I’ve never met most of you, never laid it all out between cappuccino cups or ice cream spoons. We’ve never taken a late night drive together because the darkness was just too much, and I’ve never given your hand a squeeze as I stood up to leave the table.
And anyways, wherever you go, there the internet is. Or something.
But this leaving is changing things, changing me, and so I guess if you only know me in pixels, you can note that much.
In case you didn’t know, the real line is “wherever you go, there you are.”
I think at some point I must have said, smugly, “hhhmph. Wherever you go, there God is.”
I probably thought Walt Whitman said it, and was annoyed with him. “I don’t contain multitudes, dummy. God does.” I think both can be true. I think God knows both to be true.
Whitman still annoys me a bit. But I try to be less smug about things.
But I still say the mis-attributed line my old way, in a shaky whisper:
wherever you go, there God is.
I’ll step off a plane today into the arms of people I love–a celebration and a send-off, heart so swelled with all the lasts of my final 24 hours in Waco. I will drink it in much too fast, I know. Then I will drive to Dallas to meet Alia, so we may begin the three-day journey together to North Carolina. There are a few goodbyes I can’t bring myself to think about until they happen.
Amma Erin Jean keeps saying, “It’s just ‘until next time.'”
And she’s so right. [But I know she still has all the feels over that Head and the Heart song.}
I’m late; I try to still be reverent as I speed walk through the nave, bowing quickly before the altar and cross before I turn to the left, just glimpsing the canopy of stars you can only see if you come directly to the Table. It’s still bright in the side chapel at the end of the day when the scarce summer crowd gathers there for midweek Eucharist. I think of this time last summer, when I wanted names to go with faces to go with “peace of the Lord be always with you.” How so much has changed. How much Love has changed things.
So at the end of the service, I really hear the commission for the first time:
Eternal God, heavenly Father,
you have graciously accepted us as living members
of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ,
and you have fed us with spiritual food
in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood.
Send us now into the world in peace,
and grant us strength and courage
to love and serve you
with gladness and singleness of heart;
through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Fed to feed, and all that.
i carry your heart with me(i carry it inmy heart)i am never without it(anywherei go you go,my dear;and whatever is doneby only me is your doing,my darling)i fearno fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i wantno world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meantand whatever a sun will always sing is youhere is the deepest secret nobody knows(here is the root of the root and the bud of the budand the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which growshigher than soul can hope or mind can hide)and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars aparti carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
All the food is unapologetically spicy and full of fat and we get raised eyebrows from the waitress because we don’t order like gringos. We roll our r’s and soften our d’s without thinking about it. The red chile in this 100-mile radius is like no other. The women shush my dad when he tries to sing along to Linda Ronstadt’s mariachi album playing in the background, but then I join him when Cielito Lindo comes on. We arrived when the late summer sun was setting the adobe on fire, so the nearly-empty restaurant doesn’t mind us too much.
We do loud flavors and spicy voices and strong personalities (that veiled critique we weave into who we really are.) I forget I am known differently here, where the desert sage blooms fierce and wholehearted–and briefly.
My grandmother tells me on the ride home, “There’s that old phrase ‘we give our children roots and wings.’ You’ve got the roots, girl.”
Now for the wings again.