I’d always identified summer as a season of rest, of sun and recreation. But for the past two years, summer has been a season of change for my family. In June we found ourselves packing up our home and saying goodbye to beloved friends and a wonderful parish family, for the second year in a row (and with the knowledge that this will most likely not be our final destination).
Of all the things we learned this past year, the most important have been these: first, it’s worth it to invest yourself in a community, even temporarily, and second, wherever we go, Jesus is already there, waiting for us with Good things. So as we work through all the feelings around our move we cling to the promise that He’s already there, waiting for us, most especially in the Eucharist. If our home is in Him, then wherever we go we are home.
I had this on repeat in my mind and heart as we drove to our new parish for the first time this past Sunday. It also happened to be the pastor’s final Sunday at the parish, and while his homily was perhaps intended to be a parting gift to his parishioners of 11 years, it was a balm to my soul at the start of our journey here.
Fr. Dan began with words he’d received from a brother priest:
“The pain you feel is the price of love, and Christians must always be willing to pay the price of love. Remember this: There are no transfers in heaven.”
My eyes filled with tears because I know the truth of these words. The pain we have felt as we accept change means we’ve loved. Last year I couldn’t have known that a single year would be enough time to make good friends, to get involved, to feel at home. And perhaps saying goodbye would have been easier if we hadn’t done those things, but then our time would have been wasted. Even now I am tempted to think it might be better to just “lay low” this time and not put down roots; uprooting is easier if the roots are shallow, right? No. The pain of goodbye was worth the love we lived. And I want to love here.
Fr. Dan continued to challenge me, to affirm what Jesus has been whispering to my heart this year: Change is part of being a disciple. Following God means we have to let go of things. We usually think discipleship means letting go of things that aren’t good for us, and that’s certainly a part of it. But sometimes following Jesus means letting go of things that are good. We let go of one good thing so we can be free to receive another good. This is at the heart of the Christian life; we live this same mystery in our Lenten fasting, in our vocations, and in sacrificial love.
We can embrace the sacrifices that come with change, that come with following God’s will, because we have hope of something that is greater. That something for which we’re willing to leave everything behind is heaven. Fr. Dan says, “It’s worth letting go when the Lord asks it, it’s worth following when He asks it, it is worth being close to Jesus every time he asks it.” It’s worth it because to follow Him is to love Him. And I want to love Him, wherever He calls me.
I couldn’t help but smile at the generosity of the Sacred Heart – our attending this parish, this Mass, with this priest wasn’t random but a gift of providence. And maybe his words are meant for your heart, too. I’ve been noticing how many others are in a similar season of change this summer. Maybe you’re moving or starting a new job or ministry. Maybe you’re getting married or having a baby and saying yes to a whole new life. Maybe you’re sending your kid off to college or retiring. Whatever new path Jesus is offering to you, and whatever pain there is in letting go, remember that there’s freedom and joy in following, and that it’s worth the price of love.
(You can listen to the homily on the parish Facebook page.)
Copyright 2019 Megan Swaim