Years ago, I went through the painful transition of severing connections to a large church that I had been raised in growing up in Portland ,Or. I ended up transferring my membership to a wonderful church in Princeton, N.J. where I was working, at that time, as a minister in training.
Yes, in retrospect, that time felt really bad, it was full of upheaval. It really felt like a divorce, separating yourself from a community that you belonged to and that supported you, only to find out that it wasn't the case.
Needless to say, my separation divorce experience with the previous church severed a tie with what felt like home. It was not like Joni Mitchell describes in her song " California "
"I'm going to see the folks I did,
I'll even kiss a Sunset pig,
California, I'm coming home. "
No, it was none of that: rather it was saying goodbye to the big cream colored Romanesque style church in downtown Portland, Or and saying hello to the church that looked like a retreat center on Walnut Street in Princeton.
What I gained far outweighed the loss. I gained new friends, I gained a new denomination that took me in with no reservations, offered me great hospitality and support. I gained appreciation of new joys, theatre in New York, social activism for people who were in need living in Central New Jersey.
I always remind myself of this experience whenever I perceive the loss of something in my life whether it be a friendship, a working relationship or membership in a church congregation.
The good news for me is always that the gain overcomes the loss. What we become always transcends what we have been.
In this season of reflecting upon the meaning of resurrection, it can be useful and rewarding if we can become mindful of this notion.
Loss certainly reminds us of what we have cherished, what we have valued, what has become important for us.
But to gain from loss speaks even more to the growth of what we are becoming and what we will become as human beings and as people of faith.
When you help someone who has endured loss, i.e. someone who suffered the loss of a spouse or partner, parent, child, family member or losing a career, a home or residence, identity or dream, you are helping them to find a new way, a new path, a new source of light, indeed a new life.
When my now decreased brother-in-law was a graduate school student in Optometry at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Or; the Friday night ritual would be to take my sister and my nieces either out to dinner at Obie's or they would go to a movie at the drive-in theatre called the Car View in Hillsboro, Or
When my brother-in-law graduated from school he announced to my sister:
" we are going out on Friday to dinner and the movie. "
My niece Jenny, who was probably about nine years old at the time, said:
" Sometimes, we go to Obie's, Sometimes we go to the Car View, But we never get to go to both Obie's and the Car View ! "
May we all be blessed with experiencing gain in living over all of our losses.
May we all be able to go to Obie's and the Car View.
May it be so now and always.