Praying Our Goodbyes – A Book Review
Praying Our Goodbyes
By Joyce Rupp
Book Review by: Major Lauren Hodgson
Life on earth is transitory; birth and death, showers and funerals. We live in a transient society, always moving from thing to thing. With these ideas in mind you would think we all would be pretty proficient at saying “goodbye”. The truth is that change at any level is difficult for us. The truth is that change on the level of “goodbye” is immensely difficult. Farewell, whether involving a geographical move or the ending of a relationship due to death, divorce, loss of job or a myriad of other reasons for our having to say goodbye.
Joyce Rupp’s book, Praying Our Goodbyes, is best summed up in the subtitle, “A Spiritual Companion Through Life’s Losses and Sorrows”. We all have experienced losing someone or something that has given life meaning and value. Rupp writes, “We may be harshly bruised by life’s farewells, but it is possible to be healed. We can become whole again. I believe that if we are willing to move inside the heart of the experience, to live patiently through the process even as we acknowledge the difficult, painful emotions, we can experience the wonder of spiritual growth and the marvel of new depths of faith in our relationship with God and with others.”
The author helps the reader unpack the suitcase he/she carries on the journey through life. There are life skills God has graciously given to us and, with these and his guidance and care, we can turn this transition from hurt to healing.
There are four aspects of praying a goodbye, according to Rupp:
- Recognition – naming the loss or change that is taking place. We need to acknowledge the ache of our goodbyes and to approach them in a way that leads to personal growth.
- Reflection – contemplating the loss, the mystery of God, and the human condition.
- Ritualization – looking back at the life that was and looking ahead as rhythms are established for the new lifestyle.
- Reorientation – Acknowledging (and celebrating) new rhythms that are put in place.
The genesis of the word goodbye is “God-be-with-ye” or “Go-with-God”. This word was a recognition that God participated in the going. When we are enveloped with fear or dread because of the difficult parting, the “goodbye” reminds us that the One who gave and cherished life would be there to protect and console. As we utter our goodbyes, may it be a reminder to us that the pain and loss need not destroy us but rather lead to a better understanding life and the Creator and Sustainer of that life.