Rob Lewis writes about saying goodbye to two of our souls, Angela Webster and Sophie Dickinson, who are currently working and serving in Africa and India.
“You’ve got a good one, there. Don’t let her go.” This might be good advice for a person who has somehow managed to secure the love of his life. But it’s lousy advice to a church. We need to let the good ones go.
All Soul’s recently said goodbye to several good ones, and I am reluctantly considering the good in those goodbyes. Two of these good ones are Angela Webster and Sophie Dickinson. I would rather they still lived in Wheaton than in Africa and India.
I receive regular updates from Angela and Sophie. They are brief and full of good cheer. Both are doing several things they have never done before, all at the same time, and in another culture. Angela lives in a chilly studio apartment (she warms her pajamas with a blow dryer), is learning Arabic, and teaches English. She is also rapidly making new friends. Sophie teaches with Back2Back in Hyderabad, and sponsors one of nine young girls in a children’s home situated there. And of course, both Angela and Sophie are blogging about all of it.
All Souls sent them off on the wings of a beautiful blessing from Fr. Martin that reminded us why we don’t want our good ones to go, and why we bless them as they go.
We believe that God is good, and that all goodness is grounded in God’s good purpose for the world, and not in human happiness, or virtue, which is our barometer of goodness. Angela did not go to Africa because she is a good person. Sophie did not go to India because she wanted to increase her happiness quotient. Both went because they believe in God’s good purpose for the world.
I got to meet Angela’s family at our farewell reception for her. As I talked with them I realized that Angela’s goodness is home grown. And that the goodness in the Webster family is steeped in their faith in God.
We can’t hoard goodness. We can only release it with the wind of the Spirit, which blows wherever it wills. It falls to the ground and grows, as it must to counter the virulence of badness in this world.
It’s the nature of goodness not to stay, but to go, even as the nature of light is to travel away from its source.
“I am the light of the world,” says Jesus. The celestial light has traveled to earth. The dayspring from on high has visited us, and gives light to them that sit in darkness.
This is the good news, that God has sent his Goodness to us, and is dwelling among us, and sending us out in turn. That’s not just the good in goodbye. It’s the good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.