Nothing makes me more aware of what relationships mean than the hellos and good-byes of life.

I get weepy every time I see a military mom or dad greet their child in a surprise reunion played on the news. A story is told in the hug between child and parent revealing the cost of personal sacrifice for the good of the wider community. It is a testimony that after separation between loved ones, we connect where we left off.

I get emotional at Baptisms, whether I know the moms or dads, or the babies. I cry at everyone’s weddings. On the first day of school, I loved meeting my teacher and now, as a teacher, greeting my students.

Just launching a grief support group, I am reminded how deep into the heart we go in the good-bye of loss. Death, divorce, job loss, the distance when at odds with a loved one, or when a child simply grows up– all remind us of how precious our connections are, and how much the void simply hurts.

I think of the old story of the child, in fear, crying out, “Mama, come and hold me.” Attempting to calm the child, the parent responds, “Don’t be afraid– God is with you,” to which the child responds, “Okay, but right now I need a God with skin on!”

If the essence of God is love, we will surely recognize God in the space between ourselves and those who matter to us. Does it stand to reason that the more we love others, the more we will know God?

Life is so much better when we connect, and how much sweeter it is when we become that grace of “God with skin on” for each other!