"Jesus himself started saying good-bye almost as soon as he arrived. There was a strange and irritated fare-thee-well to his family — one that he would not even come to the door and say to them face-to-face: 'Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?' Later there was an almost unnoticed one said to Judas at the supper table, and one to his Father in the garden, a prayerful good-bye that caused him to sweat blood. And there was an angry, anguished one from the cross.

"The disciples say good-bye to Jesus without knowing what they are saying. By the time he turns up on the road to Emmaus, he is forgoing even saying good-bye; he just disappears when people look up from the dinner table. Finally he says good-bye without a trace from the top of an unidentified hill that has somehow managed to become the object of a holy war ever since.

"For a journey home to God and to each other and to our own sweet selves, this road we travel seems to have more than its share of good-byes.

"There must be something in all of this good-bye business for us to know. There must be something that God wants to tell us in the last place, something that can be said only after we have said good-bye in the first place."