It’s been a while since I have been able to sit down and put two thoughts together with any cogency. Life has demanded I move at its speed, and I have dutifully complied, handcuffed as I was to things that needed doing on a firm timetable with no wiggle room.
As I now pause to take a deep breath, I am reminded of the story of the big game hunters who traveled to a distant and foreign land where they engaged local tribesman to carry their gear and belongings through the thick bush. Day after day, sunrise to sunset, they bushwhacked through thick jungle hastening in pursuit of the big game. One morning, as the hunters hurried to reengage the pursuit, the tribesmen stayed where they were, not moving, not rising, not packing, not tracking. “What are you doing?” the hunters implored, “We need to get moving!” The tribesmen replied simply, “We are waiting for our souls to catch up.”
Today, as the fog begins to clear, I am letting my soul catch up. My husband and I have just completed our own big game expedition. We packed up and moved out of our longtime home. All that has gone before has been boxed, bagged or tossed. How humbling it is to stand before your leavings at the curb — load after precious load.
Three things are pinging my brain:
- Buy only what you need and use what you have until it’s gone. Discarding so much — physically taking it out with the trash — forces me to see how much waste I am actually responsible for. Mother Earth, I am so sorry.
- Don’t save for a rainy day. Do it, say it, use it now. Omission is difficult to live with and often impossible to rectify. Deep cabinets are not your friend. If it doesn’t come close to hand, you probably don’t need it. Someone else needs it more.
- There’s never the right time to say goodbye and always time to say see you later. Even though later will likely never come.
The universe is showing me that there is a difference between value and worth. I have never been good at distinguishing these. Often I keep things because they “might be worth something.” (to someone else) Ah, but value… value is determined by me. The purging, packing and moving has insisted I declare it. What do I value so greatly that I want to take it with me? How can I help it live on? These things …
- I share. Things I share live on in the life of the other.
- I photograph. These allow me to recall and remember.
- I tell. Words expressed live on in the heart of the other.
- I hug. Sentiments conveyed live on in the body of the other.
- I thank. Gratitude completes what the heart knows.
- I give. A gift keeps on giving in and through the other.
- I save. Things that tell our story in a unique way reverberate.
- I collect. Remembrances with deep meaning go with me.
- I pray, over the house and its rooms, claiming its blessings and sending them on.
- I depart, trusting that closing this front door will allow me to the open the next.
Few things in life are mentally, physically and emotionally taxing all at the same time. Moving out of your home and your community is one of these things, and I am trying to remember that it’s okay to take care of myself while recovering from the taxing trifecta.
Funny, just when I begin to think of myself as nearly there, God shows me how far I have yet to go. Wendy, Wendy, you hold onto so many things. There is only one thing you need to hold onto and it is already holding onto you.
Saying goodbye to what we truly love is so very hard. Ah, but something of deep abiding value… that has worth always. It resides in us, stays with us, has life in us. Always.
We tend to think of “coming of age” as a once in a lifetime experience, or at least one season of our lives. Then we’re done. Thank goodness that’s over. Now I can move on to adult things, and put those childish ways behind me.
But what if I don’t, or rather, I can’t. At least not now. And the further I get from my childhood, the harder it is to let it go. By then, I have held on so long it has become a part of me. I hold dearly to these things I “know” about myself, so dearly that I just take them for granted. I always cry at …. I never know what to say when… I’ll lose so why bother doing … It’s his fault that… No one listens when… These are part of “who I am.” Even the things I don’t much like about myself I have learned to live with, so I figure I’m stuck with them. But what if I’m wrong?
What if the opportunity to lay down the things I hold dearly happens annually? or monthly? perhaps weekly? OMG, daily? Yes, I may never see them again. That is, unless they are good for me: good for my direction, my progress, my soul. Then I believe I will see them again. They’ll probably sneak back in under the guise of a project, a phone call, a surprise email or a tug to get back to writing that blog you were so fond of. But the rest of those things need not rear their ugly heads; they were meant for drop-kicking.
New every morning are my opportunities to see myself in a new light, with capability to address the day in a new way. Coming of age may happen in a moment for a few souls, or for the boy Jesus who was “about his Father’s business” when he was left behind by his parents, but for me it’s a day by day diligence. You don’t need to be who you were yesterday, but to be better you need to release your grip on the stuff in your fist. Yes, YOUR fist.
That oughta lighten things considerably around here. Who knows, maybe this stepping may turn to skipping and leaping and bounding. Good grief, I may get to hurdle a whole bunch of stinking stuff. Who knew I was the one holding the key to tossing it aside?
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” ~ Proverbs 22:6
I think something may be getting lost in the translation, here. Everywhere I look, I see parents starting their children off, holding their hand, walking with them, lugging their backpacks, bringing them water…harmless things. Helpful things.
That somehow turn into… must practice, must be at every game, must train, must compete, must enter tournaments, must “be seen by college coaches,”… There’s a dedication and discipline parents want to inspire. They dearly want to start them off on the right way.
But we’re reluctant to let go so they can find it. We get so caught up in the “way they should go” that they turn from it, just to spite us. It’s ‘our should’ not theirs and they say so.
Or they don’t. And maybe that’s worse. When they feel the weight of unspoken expectation invested in them and try to live up to it. Knowing, full well, they don’t have it in them. But seeking to please. Clamoring for praise. Daring not disappoint.
This way becomes covered in brambles. The ascent becomes steep. Footing precarious. Gravel gives way and they fall. Tumbling down. The higher they’ve climbed and the more mountainous the region, the more they are scraped and bruised and broken on the way down.
“Be pleasing! seek praise! don’t disappoint!” echoes. They scramble to their feet, desperately searching for the trail head. Where is the path? Quickly, I must find it. I am falling behind, others are moving ahead! Must find the way I should go. Mom and Dad told me. Others encouraged me. Can’t let them down.
How many of our children are trapped in this place?
I expect the only safe excursion for parent and child is along the flat. Weaving in and out, following the paved way, learning where the edge is and which direction is forward. The pace? As long as it takes for small feet and little legs or great big sneakers and long limbs to make it their own. Their own pace. Their own swing. Their own shot. Their own path.
We, need only shout encouragement when they choose well. “That’s the way!” And to re-direct when they choose poorly.
The way up the mountain of God is narrow, the ledges best navigated single file. But at each turn there is a broad place, where God says, “Rest here a while. Eat if you’re hungry. Drink if you’re thirsty. Prepare for what’s ahead.” He knows it already. Walked the path. Chose it for us.
When we see it we know it is ours. Meant especially for us. Not simple to climb, but easy to choose. And climb we do, putting one foot in front of the other. Same step, different terrain.
No wonder we celebrate when baby takes his first step.