A church family in the past had a custom they openly talked about and practiced. When you joined the family, they asked that you seek the blessing of those you were coming from. In turn, for those leaving, they offered their blessing for the future.
Hearing about it and seeing it in practice were different. I have heard this kind of rhetoric in many communities. Rarely do I see it in action. People usually move, visit ever so often, and then drift from the collective memory. While there may be a word about their going, even a farewell party, there is little talk of giving one’s blessing. In this church, the departure formalities were just that, formal.
Business departures vary accordingly. In one company, there is a culture that dictates no recognition of the departure. Once one resigns, it is as if you do not exist. You are no longer allowed in the company. One’s access, email, and corporate mobile are cut off. Whatever was between the company and individual is cut off. In contrast, other companies act as if the resignation letter did not exist. While visibly different, the impact is the same. Dialogue stops, communication ends; it is as if one exists.
Communities have a personality that is uniquely their own. The relationship with individuals can be positive. It can also be not helpful. I believe that if both care about each other, then good will follow. It is never enough for one side or the other to look out only for itself. Life calls us to be more than what we are.
Occasionally there are examples of the balance. At times, individuals ask the community, as in one case with the words, “You could give me a good send-off, wherever I may be headed next.” (1 Corinthians 16.6) On other occasions, the organization or community offers it.
As I watch a company lose sight of a value it embraced in the people that made it a community, there is a tangible sadness. It could be more than what it is. So could we.