‘All good things...’: Mourning the end and anticipating new beginnings

By Zach Harris
Posted 7/12/19

“All good things must come to an end.” It is an oft-used saying, which is sadly very true. The superlatives in life can only last so long before they, unfortunately, are gone.

That phrase has …

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‘All good things...’: Mourning the end and anticipating new beginnings

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“All good things must come to an end.” It is an oft-used saying, which is sadly very true. The superlatives in life can only last so long before they, unfortunately, are gone.

That phrase has rummaged around in my mind for the past couple of weeks as I have perceived a few “endings” around me — some that I knew were coming, and some that were surprises. And though I’ve seen some endings before, I’m always shocked at how unpredictable my reaction is when I am presented with an ending. Sometimes what seems trivial appears to have a profound influence upon me, while what would seem to be a life-altering culmination gets simply glossed over as part of life.

In recent days, the last official Marvel movie in what has been the last 10 years of storytelling came out. It’s a story about Spider-Man and acts as a transition from those first 22 movies where Iron Man was the anchor hero to what one might guess is a new era where Spider-Man will take on that role.

On July 4, the third season of “Stranger Things” dropped on Netflix, and though there will undoubtedly be another outing, there is a sense of ending that comes with a trilogy having been completed, especially in the way that this season ends.

Then, there was the unexpected twist of the end of “The Walking Dead” (the comic book, not the TV versions). I have to admit; I had kind of lost touch with keeping up with the book for the last year or so. I had read the news that the main character, Rick Grimes, had died in issue 192. However, the TV versions were going on without him, so I, like everyone else, just figured, so would the comic. But I was still shocked to find out that issue 193 was THE END — a surprise bolstered with fake solicitations for issues 194 and 195 for the coming months! After 16 years, the approaching milestone of a 200th issue and the bountiful cash cow that this title surely still represents, it was a true stunner!

And then — something I knew would come — as fate would have it, it timed out that my casual streaming of two ensemble TV shows that I hadn’t followed when they originally aired, crescendoed at the same time. On the same day, I watched the finales of “Community” and “Parks and Recreation,” both shows that were tinged with sadness probably as much from the actors saying goodbye to each other as the characters. And though the former had “jumped the shark” (though not quite as handily as Fonzie did in the original actual jumping of a shark on “Happy Days”) a couple of seasons before, it still had a cumulative sadness of saying goodbye.

All of that seems a rather shallow reason for emotion, except for some concomitant real-world bits at play. Recently there have been personal inquiries as to retirement, and if and when retiring will be a financial possibility for me, as more and more the physicality of going and going is compromised by the faltering mechanics of my body. There are questions lifted up about The Church, from those who question whether the Age of the Church as a whole is simply past due across all denominations and places to questions about my own congregation and the many ways we have tried to reach out to the people of the community. And even this very week, I have been on a house-hunting trip to Boston with my son who is soon to end his residency in North Carolina to start a new occupational pathway by attending Harvard Law School.

Implicit in each of those situations is a necessity to change. Change implies an end to what was, in order that a new thing can begin. It is actually the only constant in life, while our hope for the “status quo” is really only a momentary illusion.

“All Good Things” is the title to the final episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” It aired 25 years ago as a capstone in a genre that indeed did not end on that note, but rather has blossomed in large part from that success.

Six years ago, my son graduated from high school only to begin college. Two years ago, he graduated college to begin a career. Now he leaves that career only to anticipate that in three years, another graduation ceremony will lead to a new calling.

Perhaps a transformative progression is what I and The Church are in the middle of also. We’re just too close to see it!

“All good things must come to an end.” I agree that this is a truism. But what faith (and a little life experience) tells me, is that not ALL good things come to an end at the same time. There are more good things to come. Better things. And ultimately even the BEST thing — with God in the Kingdom. But that one is the exception, because it never ends!

Pastor Zach Harris has been an ordained minister for 27 years and currently serves Ascension Lutheran Church in Wilson. His column, “Through a Lutheran Lens: A Pastor’s Perspective,” appears weekly in The Wilson Times. Previous columns are available at WilsonTimes.com.