Study: Name some of the most powerful life transitions (school, work, relationships, death). What life lessons did you learn from these experiences?
Pray: Ask the Lord to send the Holy Spirit into your heart for the wisdom and strength to face new transitions.
Serve: Who in your life is facing a difficult time of transition right now? How can you be a source of support?
Her name was Miss Toft. She was the magical kindergarten teacher who introduced me to the wonders of school. From the very first day of class she seamlessly wove learning and fun together. She was kind, funny, and dedicated to the kids in her class.
As the school year came to an end all of us were excited about summer, but several (myself included) did not want to leave. We had gotten familiar with the routine, we knew what to do, we enjoyed our class, and we loved our teacher – besides the older kids were BIGGER and there was the great unknown of elementary school looming ahead.
“I don’t want to leave kindergarten!” I said.
She said, “But Andrew, if you don’t leave kindergarten, you will never discover all the great things in school. Every grade has new things to learn and I know that you will like it.”
Then I got to the real point. “But I don’t want to leave you!” I cried.
She gave me a hug and said with a teary smile, “Even if I’m not your teacher I will be just down the hall. You can say hi to me any time you want, and I will always be here for you.”
Looking back that moment was the first of many experiences of a simple truth: sometimes we have to say farewell in order to grow.
Throughout life there are numerous moments when we face a transition – we say farewell to a place, a person, or an experience in order to begin a new chapter in life. The very process of letting go provides space in our hearts to experience new opportunities and thus grow and stretch in order that we can become more.
The disciples had been with Jesus for three years. They had journeyed with him throughout his ministry. They had witnessed the miracles, the healings and the teachings. They were at the Last Supper, the Garden of Gethsemane, and from a distance they saw the agony of the Cross. Then for a few glorious weeks, they encountered the Lord in all his resurrection glory – and just when things seemed to be incredibly wonderful he leaves them in the Ascension.
Why? So they could grow in a new way.
It was time for them to take his teaching and example to the world. Filled with the Holy Spirit (which we celebrate next week at Pentecost) those simple men will transform cultures and civilizations with the Good News of Jesus. They will do more then they ever dreamed possible – because Jesus said farewell to them so that they could grow. The Feast of the Ascension articulates the reality that sometimes the only way we can become more is when others step out of our lives and allow us (or obligate us!) to continue on our own. The transition is not easy, but it does create new opportunities.
Jesus walks with us through our transitions as well. Even when letting go and saying farewell seem impossible to do, the Lord guides us and teaches us that through this process we discover new insights and strengths to grow as his disciples.
What transition am I experiencing right now? Do I view it as a painful obstacle or as an opportunity to discover new insights? Perhaps the best thing we can do in a transition is to look for the lesson the Lord might be trying to teach, and then figure out how we can put it into practice.