Tonight I took a quick walk with six of the children to a nearby park. When we arrived, they scattered in several directions and it was a matter of minutes before they had various games and imaginative scenarios in place. It was nice to let them run, listen to them talk and negotiate and imagine together. I sat on a bench beneath huge, old trees as the gentle October breeze – not nearly as cool as you would expect – rustled the leaves overhead.
They’re still green, but I always love the way they sound at this time of year. It’s as if they get a little louder as they begin to dry out and change colors. Tonight it was like being enveloped in a gentle rain without the water. Such a beautiful, soothing sound.
I feel amazed that another change of season is upon us. It seems only a few weeks ago I was looking around at the signs of spring, a great wonder in my mind and heart at it all. And suddenly here we are, crickets chirping, darkness falling before 8 pm, and tonight the sounds of children chattering as they lay in hammocks in the backyard.
I am so fortunate. This year I’ve been blessed to be stretched in ways that have shaken me to the core, changed on the inside so radically that I often feel like a stranger to myself as I poke at this and that to discover which parts of me are still the same and which no longer exist. I’ve learned so much about being vulnerable, about leaning in to heartbreak, staying open and willing to feel, finding reassurance in small and simple things, loving without expectations, hanging onto hope and grappling with despair. It’s been a year like no other. Only in the last week or two have I had moments of thinking that I’m still me, that being me isn’t such a bad thing to be, and that I’m going to be OK in the end. That things will keep changing and I’ll keep growing and in the end it may all be beautiful.
Life at our house is raw and chaotic and busy and messy. Even ugly and broken sometimes. I remind myself daily that when you choose people, things tend to work out. I realized this week that they are working out. Not in a neat, tidy, tied with a ribbon on top kind of working out, but an exhausted, we gave it our all, evidence everywhere kind. I suppose both versions testify of God’s grace and goodness, but the first makes it look easy and maybe the second is honest about how much work it is sometimes just to get through the business of living and meeting obligations and striving to love in meaningful ways. I feel like everywhere the hidden price tags are so much higher than I expected them to be, but somehow we’re not emotionally bankrupt yet and that alone is evidence of Heavenly Father’s loving care. So even though I don’t love the desperate, frantic way things run away with me, I can trust it will all be worth it in the end. And that’s a good feeling.