It was tempting to look at the stage that corresponds to arrival in a geographical pilgrimage as “success”, but that would be to monstrously oversimplify this area of life-as-pilgrimage. I suppose you could also correlate this stage with death and whatever comes beyond, but that would be to miss out on the value of ending other things well in our lives.
The words “conclusion” and “closure” particularly come to mind. There are many times in life when if we fail to “arrive” in the sense of having reached a point of understanding, acceptance and celebration of what has been, we are unable to move on to what may be.
The end of a relationship, bereavement, moving from one geographical location to another, finishing a job…all are times of arrival at an ending, and time needs to be taken to mark that ending, to set aside what has gone before in a positive way whether it counts as success or failure.
In the fast-moving world in which we live it is important to give ourselves time to process this ending. We often understand this well in the area of bereavement, but this is only one of the areas of life where it takes real time to “come to terms” with what’s happened. Sometimes it helps to have some kind of ritual, some kind of event, alone or with a group to mark the ending.
Closure and conclusion do not mean that we are striving to forget or set aside what has gone before; they simply point us to the undeniable fact that every beginning must lead to an ending, and the way we deal with that ending will define our next steps…it will either consign us to the past, bitterness and to an ever decreasing sphere of life or it will open the way to new possibilities, another chapter…
I determine amidst all uncertainty
always to trust.
I choose to live beyond regret,
and let you recreate my life,
I believe you will make a way for me
and provide for me,
if only I trust you
I will trust you in the darkness and know
that my times are in your hand.
I will believe you for my future,
chapter by chapter
until all the story is written.
From the Brendan liturgy of the Northumbria Community