Endings that are beginnings
Homily for Chapel, Opening Day
St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes School
This weekend my family enjoyed one of the most happiest events that can happen in a family. Many relatives and friends gathered together celebrate the marriage of my daughter Holly and her husband Steve. And Saturday was a beautiful day for a wedding, with the sun shining on red, gold, and orange leaves until they glowed like colorful jewels.
It was wonderful to have such a happy event this time of year, because this time of year always makes me a little sad. I see the glorious colored leaves and know that they’ll soon be gone – like the tiny bright leaves on the trees next to MacKinnon Field that looked like golden rain as they tumbled to the ground in the past few weeks. The weather’s getting colder, and it’s getting dark earlier and earlier, too. Something is coming to an end.
The prophet Isaiah, in the lesson that Alethea and Reid just read, has some words that may help us as we think about such endings. Isaiah was reminding the people of Israel, thousands of years ago, that the endings they had experienced were about to become brilliant new beginnings. The sorrows the people had known when they were taken away in exile were about to become joy. God was bringing them home, but the promise didn’t end there. “I am about to create new heavens and a new earth,” God told Isaiah. He gave Isaiah the vision of a time when everyone would live in peace and no one – not wolves, or lions, or people – would hurt or destroy.
That time has not yet come. But we see new beginnings all the time in smaller ways. Hmmmm …. I have a way to explain that a bit better. I have a story.
A little boy was going to bed after a wonderful day. He had played in the sunshine with his friends, and had lemonade to drink, and read a story with his father under the oak tree. So when it was time for bed, the little boy was sad. He said to his mother: “Why does the day have to end?” And Mother said, “So that night can begin.” The boy looked out the window and saw a silver moon. He was silent for a while.
“But where does the sun go when the day ends?” he asked.
“The day doesn’t end,” said Mother. “It begins somewhere else. When it is night here, it is day somewhere else.”
“Well then, where does the wind go when it stops?” asked the boy. “It blows away to make the trees dance somewhere else,” said Mother.
“And the leaves on the oak tree, when they turn color and fall?” asked the boy. “They go into the ground, to help make new trees and new leaves,” said the mother.
“But when the leaves fall, that is the end of something!” said the boy. “It’s the end of autumn!
“Yes,” said the mother. “But the end of autumn is the beginning of winter. And the end of winter is the beginning of (pause) spring. And the end of spring is the beginning of (pause) summer.” The little boy smiled. He LOVED summer.
“It really does go on and on,” he told his mother. “Everything changes, but nothing is lost.” And the mother smiled, too.
And that is how one little boy learned something you have heard me say before, something I hope you will always remember: that
For every beginning there is an end,
And for every end, (let the children join) there is a beginning.
For every beginning, there is an end, and for every end, there is always, always a beginning. Thanks be to God! Amen.