Endings and Beginnings

Today may be the enemy of your tomorrow. In your business and perhaps your life, the tomorrow that you desire and envision may never come to pass if you do not end some things you are doing today. – Henry Cloud, Necessary Endings

Great is the art of the beginning,
but greater is the art of ending.
— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Philippians 3:13-14 (NRSV)
Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

Jeremiah 7:23-24 (NRSV)
But this command I gave them, “Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people; and walk only in the way that I command you, so that it may be well with you.” Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but, in the stubbornness of their evil will, they walked in their own counsels, and looked backward rather than forward.

To be old is a glorious thing when one has not unlearned what it means to begin.
– Martin Buber

“My end is my beginning.” So often it is tragedy, loss, grief, the end of something of great value or meaning that shocks a man or woman off the trajectory of normal life into another, more sacred orbit. – Suzanne Guthrie, The Portal

Death helps us to see what is worth trusting and loving and what is a waste of time.
– J. Neville Ward

Everything is passing. Seasons turn. Stories end. Vegetables rot. Businesses close. People retire. Loved ones die. Coupons expire. Students graduate. Seeds grow. We can drive ourselves nuts trying to cling to things, even as they slip away. Or we can stay lightly in the moment, attentive to what is, unattached, ready for the next moment as well, free to fully be in each moment as it passes. When we try to “make the moment last forever” we don’t actually experience the moment; we just experience our fear of its passing. Pay attention and be fully, lovingly present to what is, without trying to keep it or control it, and the passing things of this world will be more fully yours than if you froze them in time. – Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Passing

Why should we live in the moment? For one thing, this moment is all we really have. The past is gone; we can never recapture it or change it. And all our moments to come will hold their own challenges and surprises, no matter how much we plan or dream. The only moment that we have to live is now. And the only way to have any impact on how we experience tomorrow is to live our moments well today.
– Kim Barker, Linda de Meillon, and Leigh Harrison; Birthed in Prayer

If you are focused anywhere but on this present moment, you are missing the only time you can be sure of experiencing. The past is gone. The future is unknown. Having tried to relive the past and to experience the future before it arrives, I have come to believe that in between these two extremes is peace.
– Patricia Wilson, When You Come Unglued

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 (NRSV)
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die…

Live each season as it passes;
breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit,
and resign yourself to the influences of each.
– Henry David Thoreau

What I’m learning this year is that sometimes the season in life doesn’t quite line up with the season in the air, that seasons can arrive before we’re ready–carried as if by a sudden storm, a change in barometric pressure, a surprise frost. Life has its own calendar, and it doesn’t always correspond with our Pinterest boards, the liturgical year, or the calendars of our family and friends. But maybe that’s what Henry David Thoreau meant by resigning ourselves. Maybe the whole point of seasons, in life and in weather, is that sometimes they march on without our consent, without our permission, and that other times, they linger longer than we would like. All we can do is resign ourselves, to be carried along by them, to embrace them as they are. For not long after they pass, we we long for them again. – Rachel Held Evans, Living in Each Season

Revelation 22:13 NRSV
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.

To see Thee is the end and the beginning,
Thou carriest us, and Thou dost go before,
Thou art the journey, and the journey’s end.

As truly as we shall be in the bliss of God without end,
praising and thanking him,
so truly have we been in God’s love and knowledge
in endless purpose from without beginning.
-Julian of Norwich

In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity;
In our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity,
In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.
– selection from Hymn of Promise by Natalie Sleeth

For more information on the art, scripture translations and the use of this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s