“The end is where we start from” – T.S. Eliot
Labor Day weekend marked the “official” end of summer (even though fall doesn’t begin until September 22). Since summer is my favorite season, I always find this last holiday before the start of school bittersweet. I began thinking about reasons for this and decided to explore the subject of endings.
As you can see from my title, I became confused if it was the end of summer that was the bummer or if it was the start of school that was bringing me down.
In fact, endings and beginnings generally share a common point on the roadmap of our lives. Where one trip ends, another one begins. Where one trial ends, something less trying begins. In fact, I’m not sure you can have an ending without a beginning, or vice versa.
When the End Wins the Prize
It was several years ago when I was discussing the Bible with someone (I don’t remember who it was – I’m getting older, you know). They said, “Rather than having a favorite verse, I really love one phrase in the Bible.”
“What phrase?” I asked.
“And it came to pass,” they answered. (I opened my Bible right to a place where this phrase leads off a verse, Luke 6:1.)
I stood blinking at them like they’d spoken a phrase in Chinese or Russian or some other foreign language. I completely didn’t get why that would be their favorite.
She looked at me and said, “When things are really rough or I’m having a hard time or it seems like everything’s going wrong, I think of those words. Then I realize, this problem in my life will also ‘come to pass” and I’ll move on to something better.”
Ah-hah! Now I get it. In fact, until you’ve reached the bottom of a very deep, dark tunnel, you might never truly appreciate the wisdom of these words. Many people probably see this phrase as filler, a way to connect one event in the Bible with another.
I’m positive that the Author of the Book didn’t mean for anything to be filler. Every word has power to minister grace to the hearers.
Sometimes, endings take the cake in our life roadmap because the event we’re living through isn’t a pleasant vacation. It’s a climb to the top of Mount Everest without oxygen and wearing shorts and flip flops. In short, painful. When those times “come to pass,” we are happy to wave goodbye (“And don’t let the door hit you on the way out!”)
When the Beginning Rocks it
At other times, the beginning is a highly anticipated moment after months of waiting: the honeymoon after the long engagement or the morning of that long-awaited trip to Disneyland or Hawaii. For little kids, it’s Christmas morning.
When you take the first bite of blackberry cobbler, fresh from the oven and smothered in vanilla ice cream, you’re savoring it. Your body responds by salivating. You hold it in your mouth so the flavors can melt and mingle, making music on your taste buds.
In short, the beginning of any event planned well in advance is a delicious dessert. Are we savoring the experience or is it the anticipation that makes these beginnings so delightful? I think it’s a combination of both things.
A mere 11 weeks ago, summer vacation from my job began. Anticipating this beginning made the month of May palatable, whereas the month of April seemed nightmarishly long. For a week leading up to the last day of work for almost three months, nothing could wipe the smile off my face. I love summer and I especially love to spend the sunny days doing activities of my own choosing instead of going to work.
When Ending = Beginning (or is that Beginning = Ending?)
As I contemplated this whole idea of endings, I realized that you can’t have a beginning without an ending. Furthermore, when one thing ends another begins.
My singlehood ended on May 27, 1988 and my married life began. My happy honeymoon nest ended on January 12, 1991 with the birth of my first son and my road of parenthood began.
My summer break is ending, but the new school year is beginning. Am I sad to see summer end? Of course, but it isn’t because I’m sad to see school begin. I know that the days are going to get shorter and the sun will disappear behind a bank of gray clouds for six months (or more).
I live in anticipation that summer will return again. It’s just a short jaunt of nine months from here to there. That’s doable. I know this from personal experience(I do have two children and they were nine months in the making) so I choose to see the end of summer as the beginning of another trip through those other seasons to get back home again.