The Final Lesson

By Amy Saunders

Sinking into the pew of our small familiar chapel, tears rolled down my cheeks. The thought of leaving the familiarity of life as a college student behind made my whole body ache.

How did four years go so fast?

I slumped forward onto the kneeler and stared at the crucifix. Times like these you simply don't have to swipe at your tears. You let them fall.

"Ugh...hey Jesus," I said. "It's me. I've never been good at endings..."

There was a little pause. And then He responded with a smirk: "Neither am I."

Initially I was frustrated with Him for making jokes when I came to Him to be comforted, but that was exactly it: Jesus never ended because He resurrected. Even better than that, Jesus never said goodbye to us. By giving us His body in the Eucharist, His mother as He hung on the cross, and His Spirit at Pentecost, it was clear that He did not intend on ever leaving or abandoning us.  By reminding me of His Resurrection in that moment, His desire to be with us forever was the exact comfort I needed. 

So why is saying goodbye so hard?

Well...because we aren't meant to.

For you see, when I looked around me at the Newman Center, the campus, and the city I had grown to call home, I couldn't imagine leaving behind something so good. However, as the campus cleared out in those last couple weeks, I realized that those places I fell in love with were no longer where I desired to be if it meant being there without the people I always shared them with. Suddenly, it wasn't exactly the places I feared saying goodbye to, but the people who took a piece of my heart with them when they left.

As it turns out, we're not meant to be separated. And this is why the resurrection is all the comfort we need when we fear ever having to say goodbye. Because of the resurrection, goodbye is not forever, and because of the resurrection, we are no longer separated from God or each other.

Sure, graduation is full of bittersweet endings, but with every end comes a new beginning. When Jesus took His final breath on the cross before He died, the world seemed to have stopped, as if the death of Christ were an ending so permanent that nothing could overcome it. Yet, by His Resurrection, life was made new. He made it clear to me that afternoon in the chapel, as He wiped my tears away for me, that He has something better waiting for me...something better than the comfort and familiarity that I'd been holding onto.

Driving down Broad Street after moving the final few pieces of furniture out of my Diamond Street apartment, my Mom recalled through teary eyes the last four years. As we came to the end of campus she said, "I guess if we never moved on, we wouldn't appreciate it as much."

Change is hard. Saying goodbye is even harder.

But Jesus is the final puzzle piece linking us all together. Without Him, we are incomplete. But with Him, we can rejoice in knowing that goodbyes are no longer final...because life is eternal.

So there I sat just two days before graduation in our small familiar chapel. It was then when I received my final lesson as a Temple University student from the teacher I'd grown to love most (Jesus).  I guess you can say it took graduating college for me to truly appreciate the Resurrection. It is for this reason that I can say with confidence as a Temple University Owl “it’s time to fly.”

Love that you had a time that you can miss. It only means you've loved it to the extreme.

 Caitlyn Usher