“Adios”: Goodbyes of Blessing

When returning from a beautiful, yet challenging, year of work in the Dominican Republic, I attended an excellent missions’ debriefing course, with a wonderfully wise instructor originally from South Africa. One of the rich lessens he taught us was on the importance of saying a good goodbye. Often in life, in our hurry to move on to the next thing, or our eagerness to arrive at new seasons, we can give our farewells hurriedly, even carelessly. Our manner of doing so is deeply shaped by both our cultures & individual experiences. Our teacher told us that in South Africa, it is very important that people complete the job of being a good & welcoming host by attentively sending off their guests. A South African host will not only walk a guest out, but also accompany him out the road, & then finally waving with his whole body until the visiting friend is fully out of sight. Perhaps I was especially struck by this because I had just come from saying a series of hard goodbyes to my Dominican friends, who had shared their lives & love with me so fully. I was also reminded of the many friends throughout my life who have made me feel surrounded by their love & generosity of spirit by blessing me in their manner of presence & farewells.
What if we did the same? When loved ones come to visit, what if we took just a minute to watch their passing…to give thanks for their presence? What if we took that moment to pray a benediction over them such as the one offered in Numbers 6:24: “The LORD bless you & keep you. The LORD make His face to shine upon you, & give you peace.”? As a Spanish speaker, I’ve often wondered if their word for “goodbye”, “Adios”, is literally a combination of two words, “a” & “Dios”, meaning “to” & “God”. Perhaps the original intention of that culture, as well, was to purposefully place those they encountered in the hands of God with each goodbye. What if we purposed to do the same? This could be a simple, but powerful, offering of God’s love & Spirit to all those He places in our paths.

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