Last weekend we were wrapping up vacation; back home putting things in order and attending a family birthday event. Upon returning home, as soon as we inserted the key in the front door, endless activity began. Yet the scent of home filled the air welcoming our return, and we felt great appreciation for this place in which we find sanctuary. I feel much the same coming back to this blog; I have been a bit absent. Today I take a deep breath, roll out the welcome mat and invite you to join me again at Out of the Woods.
Writing is like coming home to myself; I love words. When I thread words together, like beads on a string, I find it challenging work as well a form of play. And it is also an opportunity to create a safe place to recognize our humanity bearing the thumbprint of the Creator. How unbelievably wonderful!
Currently my life looks like an unfinished finger painting. In recent months I drifted away from writing publicly; a lot of personal writing has been going on behind the scenes. Sometimes life gets messy and I am one who needs a lot of solitary time to process the big stuff. Change in the early stages almost always seems undefined and difficult to pin down. My emotions can also get wonky. Eventually it
comes together and I begin to see a clearer picture of the next step and then I inch my way toward embracing and getting comfortable with my new norm. But only for awhile. Change is a constant in life, big or small.
We all experience change, some more than others. For my husband, change is a relatively calm lake fed by an underground spring. There is movement but it is quiet and undramatic. But change clings to me, this ordinary, country girl who couldn’t dream past being a homemaker and a mom; and I have loved being both. God has a way of expanding me, stretching me to fit His grand design. And that always involves change. I guess I am one of those people who need lots of stretching; I’ve a natural bent toward finding a comfortable little nesting space and settling in. A number of changes in my life have looked more like white water rafting.
Several years back on a family camping trip in Colorado, my brother-in-law signed us up for a Class 4 white water rafting adventure. None of us had ever gone white water rafting. During the training I thought, “This shouldn’t be too bad as long as I follow the rules.” When we started out, we drifted along easily through Poudre Canyon (short for Cache la Poudre River Canyon). The Poudre River begins high up in the mountains along the Continental Divide. Just as we were learning how to remain in the raft, using our feet to hold on while bouncing about on the river, our guide warned we were entering a tricky spot. The turn was full of rushing water and we would pass between two boulders. If we tipped up just right way, we would come out of the rapids right side up. In my wildest dreams I did not imagine it happening any other way.
We tipped. Completely over. It was like being in an angry washing machine. Water was swirling around me and I panicked a little, or maybe a lot. I grabbed for anything and got nothing. Struggling for air and to free myself from the river’s grasp, twice I bumped against the bottom of the raft; all potential air gaps were filled with water. I knew I shouldn’t panic but my panic increased. I could easily drown right in front of my family. And then suddenly I bobbed out of the water into the sunlight gasping for air and choking on water. It was a frightening experience and I wasn’t sure I wanted to finish the ride. The guide assured me I did not have to finish, the bus had been traveling parallel to us.
While attempting to compose myself, I considered what was best for me to do. Everything in me wanted to give it up and play it safe. No one could blame me; after all I was the last to surface from the rushing water. My mind went back to when I was in early elementary school and my dad had gave me a Shetland pony; it was stubborn and uncooperative. Many times that pony bucked me off and my dad would say, “If you want to get over your fear you have to get back on.”
If I didn’t complete this river trip I might never get over my fear of the water. I agreed to stay in the raft. Thankfully, the remainder of the ride was rewarding and without mishap. Sometimes change is exciting, sometimes challenging, and at times painful. Change can require a lot of mental and emotional energy. There are some people who can publicly write their way through the pain. At this point in time I lack the skill. The shared pain of watching my mother-in-law die was hard enough but one day after her burial I experienced a different sort of loss.
The envelope I had been waiting on was dropped in our mailbox. Like my rafting experience, I expected nothing less than a favorable response, instead a proverbial door slammed in my face. It rocked me. I worked very hard a number of years to bring this work to completion and ended up searching for a place to curl up, grieve and pray. Some difficult decisions had to be made. Was I going to get back in and slug it out or take this as an opportunity to move in another direction? I had to get to a place of calm in order to hear the Spirit’s leading and not my own reaction. Out of it all comes this glorious upheaval of personal change. Maybe closed door open to something new like what Lucy (from The Chronicles of Narnia) discovered as she climbed inside the wardrobe.
“‘This must be a simply enormous wardrobe!’ thought Lucy, going still further in and pushing the soft folds of the coats aside to make room for her.”
The wardrobe seems never to end. Lucy comes to the end of the fur coats and finds herself scratched by tree branches and being covered by snow.
“Lucy felt a little frightened, but she felt very inquisitive and excited as well. She looked back over her should and there, between the dark tree-trunks, she could still see the open doorway of the wardrobe.”
It was just an ordinary wardrobe door but once opened and stepped through it led to Narnia. An opening may not lead where it seems but in His hands it will take you where you need to be. It is the beginning of something new; too soon for all the details. Like Lucy, I am curious, excited and a bit nervous. It is a beautiful thing when change draws support from old and new friends. It buoys me to have learned this truth: God wastes nothing on our earthly journey. When we seek to live in His will, one experience flows into another, feeding into eternal life and His plans for each of us. Do you experience change like an unpredictable, raging river or like a slow flow from a spring? What helps you embrace change? Would love to hear from you.