“It is always important to know when something has reached its end. Closing circles, shutting doors, finishing chapters, it doesn’t matter what we call it; what matters is to leave in the past those moments in life that are over.”
― Paul Coelho –
In February, my life partner-in-crime made the massive decision to resign from his role as the Senior Minister of CityLife Church in Melbourne. This is a significant choice for someone who has spent most of his life in the church world, working at CityLife in various staff roles for 31 years and as Senior Minister for the last 21 years. His announcement included this: “At age 54, I am at a time in life when I’d like a smaller world not a bigger one, a slower pace not a faster one, and a simpler life not a more complex one.” I admire his courage and clarity. He has recognised an upcoming ending and determined that a season is about to conclude.
There are seasons in our life when we are faced with inevitable and necessary endings
. Some of these closures are traumatic. They leave us in shock, robbed of choice, grieving, and perhaps resentful. It is hard to find comfort in endings that are forced upon us, whatever the reason may be. The author of Lamentations
dedicates five full chapters to express his grief over his people living in exile and of Jerusalem having been destroyed. The anguish of imposed endings can sit in our bones for many years.
Sometimes we have the privilege of actively participating in an ending. As we listen to our lives
, we discern these moments and we are far more involved in crafting the ending of the current season. There is the bitter-sweet reality of recognising that nothing in life is constant. Change is inevitable. Endings happen. They are part of life’s rhythm. And endings matter.
Endings can rise within us like a mist on a cool morning. We suddenly realise that we have changed, and like Alice
, there’s no going back. If you are like me, this is not an easy recognition to come to. Driven by nostalgia and longing we frantically look for the open door to go back to where we once belonged and felt safe – but the door has shut. Values that have laid dormant in the crevices of our heart suddenly refuse to be ignored any longer. For me it was following the path of curious compassion that led me to a bigger space of how I see the hand of God at work in the world. However, it also meant the ending of what once was. Even the ending of some relationships. There are some seasons that require these sort of Grand Finales. You cannot take everyone with you on certain journeys of life. And that’s ok.
Things come to an end to allow for new growth. We grow and we change. Some people use change as a weapon: “You don’t believe/do/think that anymore? You have changed!” Of course we have changed. The goal in life does not include the need to stay rigid and unyielding. Over the years I have watched my partner change. He has outgrown some of his earlier ideals. How he has defined success has changed. What he deeply values has come to the surface. He has taken that arduous journey to the heart and discovered things about himself that have called for difficult decisions. I admire his courage to not ignore this.
Friends, I suggest that in a society that is so desperately trying to conjure up false realities of safety and happiness, endings are the last thing we want to discuss. Therefore, our developed, ‘sophisticated’ world is so poorly equipped in handling closure. Where did we ever get the idea that endings are to be avoided at all costs? People come and go. Ideas come and go. Civilisations come and go. Endings are necessary, not evil.
I watch the Autumn leaves fall outside my office window and Winter comes softly. A season of apparent barrenness. The warm, sunny, beachside days have gone. Winter reminds us of endings. It also reminds us that what looks like death is simply a necessary moment that allows for new life and growth. We cannot fight Winter – it is upon us, whether we like it or not. If we choose, Winter can serve as a wonderful guide and teacher. Within its icy grasp lie the lessons of endings and the whisper of a different tomorrow …
“No, this is not the beginning of a new chapter in my life; this is the beginning of a new book! That first book is already closed, ended, and tossed into the seas; this new book is newly opened, has just begun! Look, it is the first page! And it is a beautiful one!”
―C. JoyBell C. –