This evening we went to a community activity where we had a chance to learn about some after-school and summertime programs available for youth here on the reservation. They are programs run by the Jicarilla Apache Nation but a child doesn't have to be Jicarilla to participate. Our daughter is on the waiting list and we enjoyed having a chance to learn more specifically about what the various programs were and which ones might be a good fit for her.
While we were there we ran into a few other people we have met in town, and it was nice to visit with them. And there was a meal. One person in charge of the activity knew I was a pastor, which resulted in an impromptu invitation to give a blessing over the meal. Such is life in a small town.
The real blessing tonight, for me, was that while we were sitting, by ourselves, a woman asked if she could sit and eat at our table. She had spent the day at a program devoted to Native American culture and so a large part of our conversation was about culture and the various challenges Native American groups face in maintaining their culture and passing it on to future generations.
A few weeks ago, at a pot-luck at our church, I had a conversation with a man from our church. He is not Jicarilla but Tiwa, and told me that in their language there is no word or phrase for "good bye." Instead, they say "see you later."
Since we have been on the reservation I have only learned a few words of the Jicarilla language, one of them being a greeting. So I asked the woman eating with us if there was a Jicarilla word for "good bye" or "see you later." There is no "good bye" but there is a "see you later," which I transliterated as "ha hin day."
I like what a phrase like "ha hin day" suggests, particularly in the absence of "good bye." It suggests, to me, that a parting from someone else is only temporary and that not only will I see that person again but I will look forward to seeing them. I am sure that there are times when people use the phrase as a courtesy, ending a meeting with it even if they have no desire to see the other person again, but that won't be my intent as I work it into my vocabulary.
That phrase, ha hin day, or see you later, also points me to the something Jesus taught his disciples. In John 14 he talks to them about their home, not here on earth but their eternal home, with him, in heaven. In verses 2-3 he says:
"In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also."
Jesus was preparing his disciples for that time when he would no longer walk the earth with them. In a manner of speaking he was saying "see you later," but his "see you later" is much more than a simple reunion.
When his disciples, the ones he walked with, taught among, and shared meals with, and all of his disciples since then, see him again they will be seeing him in all his glory. They will see him as Savior and Lord. Joy will abound, between both created and Creator. It will be a reunion unlike any other, and a reunion without end.
I'm looking forward to it. Are you?
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.