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March 31, 2008
The church was packed, long before the service started -- more people than last Sunday, and last Sunday was Easter. Some old timers, people I knew from the very earliest days of my own ordained life came, choir members who've moved away, members of junior choirs from way back when, now middle-aged with grown children of their own: everyone who could come back did so. It was Marti and Dave Diehl's last Sunday at St. Luke's. They've served as organist and choir master there for forty years.

That's a long time to serve in one place. In that long a time, you put down roots that can't easily be extracted from the rich soil into which they've grown, and mostly you don't even try. We cease to be separate from all those dear ones with whom we live and work. We twine around each other until we are inextricable. And who wants to extricate anyway? Not us.

That's the problem with these wonderful good-byes -- they make us so sad. People were putting their choir robes on as they ran down the hall, late to rehearsal. Former clergy were vesting to be part of the service. People were making coffee, testing microphones, setting out flowers, passing out bulletins. Everyone was keeping really busy. Everyone kept telling everyone else that they didn't want to think about why we were there. Didn't want to think about this good-bye. Let's just pretend it's just another Sunday.

It wasn't though, and we couldn't. There can't have been too many people there who did not feel a sting of tears at least once; certainly not me. You can't expect to get through love without any tears: the joy and sorrow of it come as a package, and they are not sold separately. But nobody there would have traded yesterday for an easier day. Nobody wished they had never even met Marti and Dave because it was so sad to say good-bye to them. We were willing to pay with the sorrow of parting for all the years of love and laughter we shared. You have to be. Love has a cost.

But it's worth it.
This year's Finger Lakes conference, the last one in a run of 70 years, is about just this topic: saying good-bye. Barbara Crafton will be the General Lecturer. Visit the Events page at for more about it, and a link to Finger Lakes registration information.
And the Geranium Journey continues at St. John's, Lattingtown on Long Island this Thursday, April 3rd at noon. Visit the Farm's Events page for links to more information, or call 516-671-3226.
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