Why do good things have to end?
This week marked the end of a course I have been attending entitled ‘spiritual direction: an approach to faith accompaniment’. It lasted for about six months, and was one of the most transformative periods of my life. It essentially taught me to listen well to others and enable them in turn to listen to themselves and to God, but through participating I have gained certainty about my sense of vocation, I have developed the confidence to exercise and nurture the innate ability I have to listen to others, I have been given the tools and understanding to deal with pain from my own past in a way that will bring further healing and wholeness, and most of all I have been part of a wonderful community of people involved in the course who have been supporting one another through this experience.
So why on earth does such a positive and nurturing experience have to end, when it has enabled a process of transformation in me that can only in turn be of help and support to others?
If the premise of this blog is anything to go on, there may not be an answer to this question at all. I mean yes, I can see the good in no longer having concerns about the practical issues that surrounded me being away for a twelve-hour day once a fortnight. The costs, the obligation to others for looking after the children, they’re all gone. But I feel inadequate to express the value of the deep friendships built up within the group of course attendees, and even the larger group relationship that has now been broken. It feels such a great loss.
On the last day of the course, we were given a quote by T S Eliot that I had to read a few times before I could make any sense of it; ‘ We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.’ I liked it in the end, because it suggested that what we perceive as endings, as finality, can instead be viewed as beginnings. Moments of pregnant expectation that there is now space for new and even better things to happen. And the result of each ending is that we are able to have a deeper experience of the situation we found ourselves in before. In the context of this course (a time of intense exploration) the ‘place’ was me; by the end of it I knew myself much better, in the context of my faith and my family and my work. This knowing is now another beginning in the process of becoming more comfortable in my own skin, a process that is of inestimable value.
Have I answered the question? I don’t think so particularly, as I’m sure had the course continued I would have continued to grow and learn through it. But I find comfort in that although we have to grieve for the good things that end, there is always the promise that if we continue to explore, there will always be more to learn and more to become.