Thursday, June 21, 2007

Farewell Lunch

Earlier today I attended a lunch with some clergy colleagues. We were bidding farewell to one of our own who is preparing to move to become an administrative official in his denomination.

We had a great lunch, but mostly we spent time reflecting on our long friendship and what it has meant to us. Now, you need to know that this friend, Jim, wrote to me ten years ago when I was getting ready to move here. He just wanted to introduce himself and extend a welcome. I was moved and haven't forgotten it. Our host came shortly after I got to town, so Jim and I paid him a visit when he arrived to welcome him.

For ten years the three of us have meet each week for "bible study." Often, we actually studied the scriptures, but just as often we talked about our families, joked about our horrible golf games (I don't golf, but I would regale them with stories of falling on my can in a hockey game), or fly fishing. Mostly, we talked about how we were doing – how we were keeping our heads above water spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically. Without them, I imagine I would have burned out long ago.

We've always had other members in our bible study, but they have come and gone, while our threesome has been consistently there. Now, our little threesome is breaking up. Had to happen some time – that's the nature of our business. And someone will come to replace Jim. But that special relationship will never be the same.

We didn't weep or make sad speeches as we prepared to part. We toasted each other with a glass of wine and enjoyed a beautifully cooked chicken meal. Then we went our separate ways as we do every week.

My kids are at that age where saying goodbye to friends – especially those who move away at the end of the school year – is excruciatingly painful. Well, it ain't easy for the adults, either. But perhaps we have at least the advantage of perspective. We know all things fall into place in their own way and their own time. And we can look back at ten years of friendship and be thankful.