Last week, I heard the same gospel reading at three different Masses.
1. Thursday, May 7th, my final Mass as a student at the UNL Newman Center.
2. Saturday, May 9th, at the wedding of my friends Katherine and Jacob.
3. Sunday, May 10th, visiting St. Margaret Mary’s parish in Omaha.
Usually, when God tells me something THREE TIMES, it’s something I need to hear.
This time, it was the phrase in John 15:9 “remain in my love”.
As Jesus prepares for His passion, this is what He tells His disciples.
So, in true nerd fashion, I looked up the dictionary definition of remain.
Remain /rəˈmān/ (verb): continue to exist, especially after other similar or related people or things have ceased to exist.
I’m leaving Lincoln. I’m leaving the life of being a college student. I’m leaving the community I’ve come to know and love. I’m leaving the house I’ve lived in for two years. All of these things are ceasing to exist (at least physically) in my own life.
There are SO MANY GOODBYES to say.
I am so sentimental. I want to cry. I want closure. I want to have a final moment with each person, with each place.
But life is messier than that. I have an awkward amount of time between graduating and leaving Lincoln, between leaving Lincoln and heading to Florida, between finishing training in Florida and going to whatever campus FOCUS will send me to.
I really don’t KNOW when some of these “lasts” will be. Nothing is more awkward than saying a dramatic goodbye to someone and then unintentionally seeing them two days later. Believe me, I would know.
I’m always grateful for people who get this. Holden Caulfield, protagonist of The Catcher in the Rye and my favorite character in literature, understands.
What I was really hanging around for, I was trying to feel some kind of a good-by. I mean I’ve left schools and places I didn’t even know I was leaving them. I hate that. I don’t care if it’s a sad good-by or a bad good-by, but when I leave a place I like to know I’m leaving it. If you don’t, you feel even worse.
But as many goodbyes as there are to say, there are even more hellos. Hello to a new place (which I will find out in just a few short weeks!), hello to new people, hello to a deepened, more intentional (albeit long distance) friendship with the friends I’ve made in Nebraska, hello to a life lived more fully for Christ and His Church.
Jesus tells me to REMAIN in His love. I’m already there, living in the midst of it. It’s like the fish who’s swimming around, looking for the ocean. He doesn’t realize that the ocean is all around him constantly. I’m a fish, swimming in the ocean of God’s love and mercy. I’m seeking out a state of being that God has already called me into.
And through the storms of life, through the transitions, the constant state of being overwhelmed with what’s going on around me, God’s love never changes. He alone is constant.
Remaining in His love means trusting despite the changes, despite the uncertainty, and despite the sadness that comes from saying goodbye.
I am so excited to see what God has in store for me as I begin this adventure.