For most of my life I have been horrible at good-byes.  I really do dread them.  I would like to believe that everyone I know and love will never leave so that I can remain closely connected to everyone I have ever cared about.  Forever.  My husband refers to this as “Wendy’s World” – a place that is lovely, but unfortunately is also very unrealistic.

Relationships changes, life transitions, and people moving are an ever present reality of every community.  Thus, practicing hospitality well means that I have had to learn how to be much better at saying good-bye.  And I’ve been able to develop in this area by shifting my perspective of good-byes from ending to sending.

Endings are sad, and they often focus on what is being lost.

Sendings acknowledge that even though loss and sadness exist, there is also much to celebrate because of all that has shared and the new things that are beginning.

Sendings also create a beautiful opportunity to affirm another person’s worth and value – acknowledging the unique presence that they brought into my home, honoring the influence they had in our community, and blessing the relationships and work that is their future.

Speaking words of love that hopefully reach the depth of another’s soul to let them know that we are always here if they need us, and it really is okay if they don’t.  I want them to know that regardless of how often or how deeply we communicate moving forward, their friendship matters.  It will continue to be a source of great delight.  And my home will remain a place of safety, acceptance, and belonging for them even as our relationship changes over distance and time.

“Because you will always have a place at our table.”

This the gift I present to every one who has been a part of our weekly community dinners as they move away from our great city towards whatever is next on their journey.  A fork and knife from my silverware drawer (the actual cutlery they have used every week at our table), wrapped in a cloth napkin, with a note reminding them that the invitation to be a part of our family meals never ends.  No matter how far they go or how long they are gone.

Loving well means finishing well.  So as you cultivate a community of belonging in your home, create a ritual that is unique to the heart of your home – that you experience together – as members move on to what’s next in their journey.  Because sending truly is one of the most essential things that we do to make our community feel like family.

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