Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

Dear friends,

Thank you for supporting us on this unforgettable journey! You have been with us at every mass and in all of our prayers. Your generosity has allowed us an experience that will forever mark our lives as seminarians and priests.
But now, it is has come time for us to return home. Perhaps limping a little from jet-lag, but mostly carried by hearts full of love. I don’t know why, but my heart is so tender now. If I witness the smallest act of kindness, tears come. It is a new place for me to be, for so long anyway, but I am pretty sure that it is good. Underneath the emotions of culture shock, I think it is the consolation of seeing God in all things.

One highlight from the trip for me was being welcomed by the children at the rural parish and school. They performed a ninety-minute welcome program for us that included Bengali traditional songs and dances. The elegance, modesty, and grace with which the young women danced and the enthusiasm and faith with which the young children sang during mass was so pure, innocent, and good! At the end of the program, they sang a song to Mary, the Blessed Mother. I could not help but think that, here we are, 20 km from the Bangladesh border, and these young children unknown or forgotten by the “important people of the world” are experiencing the maternity of Mary and knowing that they are precious and honored in the eyes of God.

My heart is full and yet also pierced. Dietrich Bonhoeffer calls it the “gap.” When we are away from those we love, they leave a gap in our hearts…and no one gets to fill this gap. He says that the good news is that God intends it this way so that our communion is preserved, even at the cost of pain. The Gospel readings at Mass this week have talked about how the disciples keep going from one town to another. I can’t help but draw parallels to our own experience. Just when relationships have been made, Jesus calls us onto the next town. I have two consolations, first is that this is the way that God has intended it. And the second is, the love that we experience here is not possessive nor temporal, but diffusive and eternal. As St. Paul says to the Corinthians, this love never ends.

So, Father, thank You for sharing Your big family with us. Help us to continue to have a new appreciation of seeing You in all things, even in the most simple acts of human kindness. We wait upon Your providence and creativity for more opportunities of such profound grace. We leave with tremendous hope that one day You will reunite us in Your kingdom where the old order of sin and grief and pain has passed away and You make all things new.

To all of our friends in India, we thank you, we love you, we miss you, from all our hearts!
Father Jon Kelly