The fall colors have felt more brilliant this year. Perhaps that is because the mountains and majestic, puffy clouds that seem to characterize this place frame the trees differently. Perhaps it is because my senses are heightened as I take in all that defines my new home. Perhaps I am simply more aware. Regardless of why fall seems bigger and longer and brighter this year, it seems fitting that I should inhabit a new space at the turn of a season. Some things change and even wither to a slow death in order to make way for a quiet hibernation that will incubate new life.
Many have asked how the transition of moving across the country (...and away from my home, family, friends, job, and ministry) has gone. I think fall is an apt analogy for this brilliant season of change that will surely incubate new growth and life. If you know me at all, you know that fall is quite possibly my favorite
Most people probably do not realize how deeply I have wrestled and agonized over the path my life took many years ago when my dad was diagnosed with cancer. I had bravely (and nervously...and eagerly!) moved away from home just three weeks prior to his diagnosis to attend my first year of college in a big city. Those three weeks were transformational in so many ways for me. I had never before experienced such independence and responsibility, and I look back on those few days and remember feeling like I blossomed. When I received news of my dad's diagnosis, I moved home without hesitation. I will never regret that decision. The next 10 months of time spent with my family hold some of my most deeply treasured memories. However, I could never shake the feeling that the blossoming growth I had tasted ever so briefly had been stunted. I can honestly say down to the depths of my toes that God has redeemed those moments and years and I am ultimately thankful for all the experiences and relationships and memories the last decade has held. When I reflect on all of that, though, I think the brilliant color that has painted this transition is that stunted blossom from so many years ago once again taking root. I think there were parts of me that needed this transition in order to come alive.
Of course, fall is not without its sad undertones. The brilliant colors only last for several weeks before a perfectly timed storm or gusty wind strips the trees of their rainbows. The ground freezes and then is buried under heaps of white powder. All life seems to hold its breath as death covers over what was once so vibrant. In much the same way, this move across the country has of course held its own sad undertones. I regularly receive pictures of my baby niece and nephew and wish I could be there to kiss their sweet cheeks. I miss the ease and familiarity of a workplace I had come to know like the back of my hand and coworkers I trusted and enjoyed. I hear of transitions in the lives of friends and church, and wish I could be there for coffee dates and even the sometimes monotonous meetings where big decisions are made. There is a lot to miss. But even with the ache of missing, with the handing over of old responsibilities and ministry passions, there comes this space for incubation and anticipation of new life. I have tilled the soil of my soul and life. I have cleared space for what is to come. And now, even in the midst of this beautiful tension...the brilliant color of an exciting transition juxtaposed to the change that feels painful and hard...I am holding my breath as I see the buds of beautiful new life surfacing in this space that I have cleared.