One of my favorite meals at the local stalls is sweet and sour chicken or beef. I enjoy the tanginess of the sauce and the meat mixed with rice and other delicious Asian flavors. In western culture, the idea of something that is both sweet and sour at the same time is synonymous with Asia.
Each year, June is bittersweet — a sweet and sour time in the life of our school. It is a time of celebration in what our students have accomplished during the last year. For the underclassmen and younger students, it is exciting to be starting the school break as they look forward to plans for the holidays. For our seniors, it is the culmination of their high school career with graduation ceremonies marking a new and exciting chapter in their lives. It is a “sweet” time.
However, June is also a time when we must say goodbye to so many who have become an important part of our lives. Numerous families head away from Penang to new adventures, and each year we have staff who leave for new jobs and ministries. It is hard to see them go. The most difficult goodbyes though, are for our seniors. We have watched them grow up right in front of our eyes. We know that it is time for them to leave. We are happy for them and proud of their accomplishments. We would not want to hold them back and are excited to see them head out and make their way. But at the same time we feel the waves of sadness that goodbyes bring. It is a “sour’ time.
What makes sweet and sour taste so good to us is that the contrasting flavors bring a complementary balance. Together they taste better than alone. Life gives us moments and seasons when we experience the same “balance” — times that are sweet and sour, times of mourning and rejoicing simultaneously. As the famous and wise philosopher Dr. Seuss once said, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” I am glad that I get to work at a school where the students and staff struggle with saying goodbye. I agree with Winnie the Pooh when he made the comment, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
May you find joy in the celebration and comfort in the losses in the coming weeks. Congratulations to our graduates! We love you and will miss you.