As I say “Hello again!” having been away on sabbatical for the last 3 months (and it feels soooo good to be back!!!), I find myself reflecting on  significant  “goodbyes” I’ve experienced this summer. How do you say goodbye to a person or a place that you have come to love deeply?

After several weeks of rest and “stay-cation” at home, in mid-July, I spent a week at PuraVida  eco retreat and wellness center in Yelapa, Mexico (a boat ride from Puerto Vallarta) on a retreat for healers. The retreat was organized by a colleague of a dear friend, who invited me and participated herself, along with several of their other colleagues, all trained therapists in alternative healing modalities. Our week was spent eating locally grown and home-cooked vegetarian meals, practicing kundalini yoga and meditation in an outdoor yoga studio overlooking the ocean, experiencing several healing modalities and therapies including circular/conscious breathwork and family constellations for healing intergenerational trauma. Each afternoon I swam laps in the outdoor infinity pool filled with ocean water. Annie’s and my “palapa” (open-air thatched hut) also overlooked the ocean; each night we fell asleep to the lullaby of the waves meeting the shore. And by the end of the week, our group of 10 women had become sisters, having shared and bared the intimate landscape of our souls to one another in the sacred space we had built together. A hard place to say goodbye to.

In August, David, Grace, Ben and I spent 12 days in Southport, ME, where I was invited to preach for two consecutive Sundays at a summer chapel called All-Saints-by-the-Sea. We lived in a sweet cottage that had originally been the workshop of a jack-of-all-trades in town, who was both a lobsterman and upholsterer. Again I found myself surrounded by water and sunlight (most days!), with day outings to the beach or visiting friends and family, and evenings spent playing Scrabble with the kids or getting ice cream in town. Another hard place to say goodbye to!

Then a few days after returning from Southport, we drove Grace to College Park and moved her and her new rug from Target into her freshman dorm at the University of Maryland. I spent that evening at an AirBnB close by, finishing putting together an album of photographs that I gave her the following morning before driving away. Such a bittersweet mix of emotions, endings and beginnings, memories and future dreams, tears, hugs and smiles, and simply being present amidst it all.

A song is playing in my head from decades ago by The Byrds that put music to ancient wisdom from the Book of Ecclesiastes:

“To everything, turn, turn, turn
There is a season, turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under Heaven”

Each of us knows what it is, to say “hello” and “goodbye.” As I turn away from summer and look towards the fall, it has been helpful for me to remember that “goodbye” comes from and means “God Be With You.” God be with all of us, indeed, as we together turn away from one season, having been enriched by it, to a new one, full of hope, new life, and new possibilities. Amen.