Goodbyes and Grace

I’ve been dreading this day. God knows…

There’s a lump in my throat. Tears threaten to spill. The heaviness in my chest causes staggered, jagged breaths. I want to feel excited, thrilled, happy; and of course, buried somewhere within I do. But right now, as I sit on a 737 bound for two weeks of vacation, rest, and writing, I am too overwhelmed with goodbyes.

Me. Emma. Abby. Locked in an intertwined hug. I don’t want to let go, but do…pulling away in the car as they stare after me. My daughters board a plane tomorrow, bound for Europe with their dad. It will be nearly a month before I see them again. A phenomenal opportunity. So many great experiences. Memories to last a lifetime. I get it. But all I feel is heaviness, sadness, and the palapable awareness of how much I dislike not being in control: of their whereabouts, their safety, their emotional well-being, and yes, my own emotions. I am a wreck.

My boyfriend drives me to the airport and holds me longer than usual. He says, “I love you, Ronna.” I don’t want to let go, but do…rolling my suitcase behind me as he pulls away.

My plane pulls away from the gate and I turn ever-so-slowly within my mind, looking for anything to which to cling; some shred of consolation or comfort. First the fragment of a phrase: from whence cometh my help? The catch in my throat loosens just the least bit. I gaze out the window at mountains still covered in snow. A verse returns from distant memory: I look to the hills, from whence cometh my help? I take the deepest breath my lungs have held in hours. One click on my iPad and I am reading the whole psalm; this sacred song to which my heart grasps for assurance, respite, and hope.

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?

My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.

God will not allow your foot to be moved;
The God who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, the God who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.

God is your keeper;
God is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night.

God shall preserve you from all evil;
God shall preserve your soul.
God shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even forevermore.
~Psalm 121

Tears fall. This time not in grief or sadness, but in gratitude for solace. What are the chances that I would recall these particular words this particular day? Not chance: providence and grace; a generous reminder that I am not alone. Nor are my daughters.

I freely admit that Scripture does not always offer me what I long for – fraught with translation, interpretation, doctrine, dogma, and patriarchy I don’t always have the desire or patience to parse. But today, it breaks through all my resistance and rational thought to touch and heal my heart.

As my flight continues,  I realize something ancient and new: logic and spirituality, head and heart, do not need to go hand-in-hand any more than I need to understand aeronautics to have faith that this plane will get me to my destination. No, faith is stuff of the heart, stuff of miracle and mystery, stuff of raw and honest emotion.  A God who shows up in ways (and words) I can no more manufacture than fly. A God who, at least today, shows up as I fly – and carries  me in kindness beyond compare.

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    { 4 comments… read them below or add one }

    Lindsey June 26, 2012 at

    Yes, yes, yes. Beautiful. You help me see those moments when God – however we conceive of him or her or it – does show up. Thank you. xox


    Ronna Detrick June 26, 2012 at

    I’m deeply grateful when I have these moments, Lindsey. To know that mine enable yours? Even more gift and grace. xo


    maureen koth June 27, 2012 at

    ronna so near and close to me are your words for years i read ps 121 aloud to groups of youth never realizing the solace it gave them until they told me now i cling to those words as i watch my adult children moving, going, leaving and sit next to you in my sadness and anticpation of what will come thank you


    Ronna Detrick June 27, 2012 at

    Thank you, Maureen.

    I had not read that psalm for years. The fact that it even came to me astonishes…and reminds me of God’s endless grace.


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