A Great Departure

Departing Couple

Henry Van Dyke, author, educator, and clergyman in the late 1800s to early 1900s, wrote:

“I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then someone at my side says: “There, she is gone!”

“Gone where?”

Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side, and she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.

Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at that moment when someone at my side says: “There, she is gone!” there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout: “Here she comes!”

Life has its beginning and ending, but it also can have its beginning again. We may go through painful experiences that take friends, family children, spouses or parents from us. We sorrowfully say our last goodbye. Those we’ve loved and cared for slip from our presence. Like a grand auction there “going, going and gone.”

Many look at life from this human perspective. This is all there is. There is no tomorrow, no hope, no expectancy. Those we bid farewell simply disappear. They are no longer in our plans. After a while, they may not even be in our thoughts.

But there is something beyond a distant horizon. Departed ones don’t just vanish. They may be out of our sight and consciousness. They may go beyond our ability to even see them, sometimes even beyond our eyes of faith. But when we can no longer visualize them something wonderful happens. Their spiritual seaward journey moves toward an appointed destination. On a distant but real shore, a crowd sings, “Here they come!” What awaits is beyond description.

Someday people will say “goodbye” to us. Are we certain of our direction and destination? Will there be a heavenly crowd singing for us “Here they come!”

Job, through all his losses and troubles, dramatically declared: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God.” (Job 19:25-26)

In our uncertain world, these are things that are sure.

Till next time, Don Johnson, Kirby Pines Chaplain