It finally hit. Watching ET of all things. I was teaching my Worldview Analysis class to the seniors, examining the Christ myth as used in ET. The last few minutes of the movie show a tearful good-bye between ET and Elliot, the boy who was once so friendless. The sadness of my own losses as a boy tumbled up suddenly to the surface and my tears began to flow. I gathered myself and tried to move one. But the sadness lingered.
During the next period, it surfaced again in a conversation with a student. But this time it was different. It was about the present loss looming over me. One grief often pulls another one up. And it did so here. For I am facing my biggest transition in a long time. After 20 years of teaching high school students full-time, I am careening towards the end point at lightning speed. My years with high school students have been filled with so much growth, joy, love, beauty. And it is ending.
I walked out into the school lobby and didn’t want to leave. But I got into my truck anyway and headed home with an ache growing more pointed with each mile. Not too long ago, I would have pushed the sadness down with busyness or just bypassed it with some emotional trinket. But this time I just let the sadness remain and disperse through me. It was the sadness of coming separation, the sadness of coming change, the sadness of impending loss. And it hurt so good.
In this fallen world, we will eventually lose everything we love. Everything. If change doesn’t do it, death finally will. And so the voices scream at us, “Shut down. Quit feeling so much. Don’t love. Stay distant. Stay disconnected. Stay hardened.” And if we listen to the voices, we build a castle wall around us, curl up inside, and slowly die.
This is why grief is so good. It is why my sadness hurt so good. It keeps our hearts open, alive, longing. Letting my tears flow and wash over my sadness felt clean. And right. I stayed alive to the wonder of teaching all those years. And open to the work I am now being called into. For grief is God’s gift to us, reminding us that the best is yet to come.
This blog is for you seniors, for all in transition, and for all who are grieving. I hope this helps a bit. Let me know.