Seasons, Friendship, and Eternal Life

by Jacqueline Arnold

 

Life here on earth, by its definition, is full of seasons, which implies beginnings and endings. Some are tangible, others are not. Graduating university and leaving behind a very unique time in my life—one saturated with intense learning, growing, and community—is a very tangible ending, to say the least. 

I am grateful for Boston College as a university that has challenged me in countless ways, and I am sad to leave a city that I know and find so comfortable (excluding the rather hostile weather, of course). However, leaving the physical place of Boston, while difficult, is not what pains me most about this particular “ending” in my life. What makes my heart ache is the fact that everything is about to change. I am about to leave this community of friends that took so much time to form. Nothing will be the same; friendships will change (for the better, I hope), and never again will my friends and I be all together in this way. That is what makes me ache—my heart is sore as I spend these last few precious and bittersweet weeks with my friends who I consider to be more like family than friends. 

 

The friendships that I rejoice in have made my experience here at Boston College indispensable. They are more precious to me than any class I’ve taken, any trip I’ve been on, and anything I can write on my resume. The people at BC are everything; I stand in awe of the friends I have made and I am grateful to have entered into one another’s lives in the ways that we did. My friendships here have challenged me, and the ones I have made that are rooted in faith call me to virtue and holiness in a remarkable way. Friendship is glorious in that it can be compared to the Heavenly Host, as C. S. Lewis writes in The Four Loves, “the more we share the Heavenly Bread between us, the more we shall all have.” Friendship is meant to be shared, rejoiced in, and multiplied; we are called to delight in one another as God delights in us. True Friendship gives us a glimpse into what Eternal Life might be like. I have experienced this type of friendship here, and I hope and pray that the meaningful friendships I have made here will continue. But I must relinquish my desire to control things, loosen my clutch, and in humility, realize that everything is “on loan” to us, as Joyce Rupp discusses in Praying our Goodbyes. 

 

Each day is a blessing, each friendship, relationship, and experience is a gift from God. We do not own or merit anything. In every goodbye, I must fight my tendency to clutch and possess my relationship and my future with my own human hands. “And now, Lord, what future do I have? You are my only hope” (Psalm 40: 8).  

 

My new home, Boston, New York, Baltimore, Seville—wherever it may be—was, is, and will be sacred, but also temporary. The longing for Eternal Life, Eternal Joy, Eternal Happiness, makes our hearts ache when we say our goodbyes: our goodbyes to places, friends, and chapters in our lives. 

 

As I and my friends experience the deep ache and pain that comes from change and our loss of all things familiar and comfortable, we can only put our trust in the Lord, and realize that our restless hearts are designed for Heaven. On this Earth, we will always experience that deep longing for our Eternal Home. C. S. Lewis writes, “There have been times when I think we do not desire heaven but more often I find myself wondering whether, in our heart of hearts, we have ever desired anything else.”

 

As this chapter comes to a very bittersweet close, I can choose to either despair over the loss of what I know to be comfortable, familiar, and beautiful, or I can be grateful for each gift I received and have hope in the Lord. This pattern of beginnings and endings, of goodbyes and hellos, is painful but beautiful and necessary, as we are preparing our hearts for our Eternal Home. Truly, I believe that “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind” (C.S. Lewis).  In both this earthly life and towards my Heavenly home, I remember that the mountains are calling, and I must go.

 


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