One month ago today, I joined in a formal Liturgy of Farewell with the congregation I’d been serving, and in the next few days completed the process of saying good-bye: to parishioners I had known for too short a time, friends still adjusting to me being 3 hours away instead of next door, family who enjoyed having me within reach again, even a one year old grandson who was the light of my year. Since then, people who only reluctantly agreed to let me go out of respect for the quest I’m on have regularly asked if I’m getting settled, happy in my new home, or beginning to feel that elusive sense of joy or peace. Really?
I know it’s their way of expressing their hope this move is good for me, but I don’t work that fast. I’ve just started the arduous task of opening the zillion boxes of books, stacking piles in rings between me and the bookcases as a step toward eventually putting as many as I can on shelves. In the next few days, I will face into the trauma of a first haircut in a new place. All the while doing my best to hold off the question, what have I done?? Into the midst of all of that floated the gentle invitation to write something about being healthy while in full throttle transition mode. I could pretend I misheard the question and respond, I’m all ears. Or I can eek out an observation or two of what I’m trying and what seems to make sense from here.
While it doesn’t come naturally for me, I’m making an effort to be gentle with myself. Sometimes I have what it takes to tackle a project, sometimes I need to sit in a heap. I try to milk the bursts of energy for all they’re worth, and take a break when my psyche demands one. As I approach my goal at the end of a weight loss journey, I’m trying not to lose ground or my hold on tender new behaviors, but I also know now is not the time for rigidity.
After a few days of affirming the exercise I was expending carrying boxes around the house, I resumed my walking routine. It’s a healthy thing to do, but more than that, this spirit needs fresh air, time to explore the setting of our house, and a chance to watch clouds moving over the lake, deer bounding across the road and turkeys scavenging on a hillside. Knowing that meeting people and forming friendships will be key to my life in this new place, I’ve followed the opportunities – church, a potluck supper, listening in as two people discuss a neighborhood newsletter, even a contentious wastewater meeting. Whether I ever go back is a different question than what I’m willing to try once. One of these days, I may even trade my slow start savoring of a cup of coffee for early morning yoga, but I haven’t gone that far yet.
Perhaps even more challenging than being gentle with myself is being patient with the process. I’m the sort who plants roots deep and builds a nest with care, and starting over doesn’t come easily. I have known since before the decision was made that it would take significant time for me to grow into this new reality. I have intentionally created a space for openness in which I expect to rest, heal and discern; and while it doesn’t surprise me that it feels more like emptiness and void than openness and space, they are two sides of the same coin.
I need to live within the complicated mix of it all, and float as well as I’m able. I’m beginning to envision some in-depth exploration of the concept of patience. This is no annual cycle through winter and mud season, trusting the crocus will bloom and life will return. I have my doubts that it will even be a 9-month gestation period. The timeline, process and outcome are unclear, but here I am. In the midst of it all, I need to wait and watch, pray and wonder, trust and hope. I’ll bake some bread, sing some songs, write the poems I hear and do what I can with the books.