I overheard a group of teenagers at a restaurant the other day talking about attending a Barmitzva. “Everything sounded the same…Hebrew is fascinating…What does Shalom mean? Shalom means hello, goodbye and peace.”
My mind wandered to a church service I attended over 19 years ago where my new- found love interest, an aspiring youth pastor, had the congregation sing a song that ended with the words Shalom, Shalom. It was the last service in a youth series we had conducted together over the summer. I had to go on to grad school and he had to go on with his pursuit of being a minister. He smiled at me in that “I’ll miss you sort of way” as the congregation sang “Shalom, Shalom.”
On my journey from my 20’s to the threshold of my 40’s – I’ve been both fascinated and plagued with hello and goodbye. It’s an endless ebb and flow. The bounty of someone entering your life – the excitement, pleasure, the sense of friendship or love. And the famine of their exit – dealing with loss, asking why, missing them.
I’m not sure I want to find the love of my life again. Whether due to my own inability to make things work or due to the death of one of us, goodbye, at some point, is certain. It makes me tired to think about it. Perhaps my bank account with all of my goodbye coping points is empty. That’s not too good considering the current majority of my life’s stakeholders, my parents and my dog, are all entering their golden years.
How interesting that the Hebrew word for hello is also goodbye and that the word for goodbye is also hello and that the word for hello and goodbye is also peace.
Somehow, we are to be at peace with this cycle. Perhaps it’s because God wants us to learn to let go, to not hold on to this earth or the relationships that ground us to it. We are to operate in a fluid and flexible realm that does not hold on to its treasure but holds it in an open palm admiring, loving, appreciating, but never closing its grasp.
The best I can tell, hello and goodbye, shakes us at the core of everything that means anything to us. If we can be shaken at our core and maintain the fluid and flexible posture that keeps us from breaking, peace and wellbeing are easier to find.
For some topics , a definitive belief statement is beyond us. Sometimes a simple prayer just works better.
As you continue down the road of your hellos and goodbyes, I hope you find yourself stronger and at peace. May you be filled with joy over your next encounter with hello and may you have the courage to face your next goodbye. May you keep your heart open and your palm open too. And for the rest of this topic that goes unexplained, un-understood, and remains a mystery to us all…Shalom.
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