“Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; when I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet…then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.”
–Herman Melville, Moby Dick
It’s the time of year when we begin to think about endings. For some of you it’s the end of your first semester, and you’ve just about made it but there’s still so much to do that you can’t bear to think about it. For others, it’s the end of your college career and you can’t quite believe you’re at this point, but you’re not sure what lies on the other side of the diploma. Halloween, All Saints, All Souls, point our attention towards endings and we may find ourselves with “a little November in my soul.”
With all these endings it’s tempting to give into fear, uncertainty, and we’re unsure if we can keep going. Endings, of course, aren’t really endings at all but changes; life goes on in a new direction which requires us to learn new skills or habits. What Jesus wishes us to know is that God hasn’t abandoned or forgotten us when things, as we’re used to, end or change. It’s natural for us to want to know how it’s all going to turn out. But that’s the mystery of life and what appear to be endings happen to take us to new experiences and, if we’re lucky, new insights into ourselves.
Ishmael, in Melville’s novel, wants to get to sea because that’s where he’s comfortable; but it’s also because he’s running from himself. The comfortable place becomes his undoing. Whatever is on your mind this week, whatever ending you’re staring at in the distance, life with Jesus isn’t something you have do to alone or perfectly or with the ‘right’ amount of understanding. May this week be a time for you to embrace the mystery before you and find, in those you love and those you meet, a companion to guide and nurture the best in you, so that you can be the best for someone who needs you as much as you need them.