Monday, October 25, 2010

The Certainty of Change

It is one of those afternoons, where I am tucked inside my little house, with a blanket,  a cup of coffee and the rhythm of the rain on my windows. The fall rains have started in Oregon, and it's ok. Yes, it's ok. That is usually not like me, to be so "ok" with rain. But I've realized that in a world that is so uncertain,  there is comfort in the changing seasons; there is comfort in knowing something will happen. There is comfort in waiting, in anticipating for it to occur, and then have it come to fruition.
 Each year we know, even on the sunniest of days, that the rain will come. We know that it will get progressively darker throughout October. We know that it will be a little harder to wiggle our way out from under the covers in the morning to the chilly, dark air. These things I used to dread; I used to mourn the coming of late fall and winter like a long good-bye at the airport.
But what I realized is that there is a certain comfort in knowing, without a doubt, that certain things will happen at certain times in the year. Now that I've lived in the same house for over three years, I know when certain trees in my yard will turn certain colors. I know that a slight red can be detected in the very very tips of my towering maple tree in the backyard around mid August. I know that it will tease me, because the color actually won't creep slowly up the leaves and branches until the first week in November, when it will be the most luminous crimson and gold. During that week, the sun will radiate through the painted branches. And, like a filter, it will cast a deep, warm, red glow throughout my kitchen.  But then, one by one, each leaf will float down...down...down and lay dormant on the ground below. By mid November, the tree will be bare; and I will have a lot of raking to do. I don't need to mourn the demise of my tree, because soon after, my Japanese maple will suddenly explode with color. By Thanksgiving, the blackberry and grape vines wrapped around the fence next to us will be so illuminated, I fear being woken up at night! :)
Every year I wait with anticipation. Even when the days before show no signs of change, I know, without a doubt, what will come.  And it always does.
There is comfort in this, when the world around me is uncertain and doesn't make sense. There is comfort in knowing that God doesn't change, and I think He reminds us of this through the certainty of the seasons. Even if all the signs try to convince us that it won't happen, that the rain won't come, we know, without a doubt, it will.
 One fall under my glorious red maple, I was moving my life into my new home. I sat in the kitchen, under the glow of the tree, dreaming about all the memories that would take place here.
 The next year, under the same glow, I was praying that the stock market would stop falling, and thus the end of the world wouldn't devour us all so painfully.
The following year, I realized the world didn't end, but instead it was spinning awfully fast; I was in the whirlwind of finishing my grad classes, coaching volleyball and working full time. I barely noticed the tree; but, it was there.
 Now, as I write, the maple changes, and I notice it because I'm not so busy. Even though I've waited for it, I am still marvelled by it.
Generations have come. Generations have gone. There was uncertainty. There was the unknown. Yet, the seasons still came. Nothing can stop them.
We can trust. We can wait. We can know, that God remains certain.
Like His seasons.
Like the rain.
It will come; and I will be comforted.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Beautiful Horizons

I've been gone the past week, traveling around the Southwest with my Grandma. Yes, my Grandma who is 75 years, can hike and bike and gets around all over the world. She is a widow; my grandpa died 26 years ago, so I really don't remember much about him. When she travels, she goes in these tour groups, which is a whole new world for me. It is mostly seniors, women in fact, who have lost their husbands as well. They all travel around safely, hoping to explore different parts of the world together.
We saw so many beautiful sights during our week together; rocks that change color in the sunlight (who knew rocks could be so pretty!); skies so blue I could dive into them; stars to bright  I could catch them! As we drove through the North rim of the Grand Canyon, the rocky terrain suddenly gave way to trees, golden aspens in fact, that literally sparkled in the breeze.  But I think the  part I enjoyed the most were the long drives through the wide open spaces. It gave my Grandma and I time to talk, remember, and reflect. She, being a widow, has always been a part of who she is. I never really gave it much thought. In my eyes, she was always my joyful, confident, independent Grandmother who takes hold of every experience and every opportunity to live. But all of a sudden, now that I am married, I really considered the long 26 years she's lived alone, without a life partner. I think if anyone had to make the most her life, she certainly has, traveling, spending time with her five children and thirteen grandchildren, taking classes, going to lectures, meeting friends for breakfast...But still, in the back of her heart, it must have always ached.
One morning, as we were driving through the rusty red cliffs, I asked my Grandma how she ever made it through the last 26 years of her life. She told me that she really had no choice. She said in tough situations, God comes through and He gives you the grace you need: enough peace for each day; enough joy for the moment. "No one is guaranteed a life without loss, without heartache, without twists and turns. But, it's how you pick up the pieces and carry on that makes all the difference in the world." My Grandma says on the that cold night 26 years ago when she buried my Grandpa, she sat alone in a quiet house. At that moment, she had to decide how she was going to live the rest of her life.
I then realized that we all face some kind of loss in life. It is not necessarily the physical loss of a person, but perhaps the loss of a dream or a loss of joy. Each day we wake up and we have to decide how we are going to live the rest of our life. Each day we must decide if we are to linger in the loss, or trudge ahead to the future. One more more day...
 "You just take one day at a time. You decide how you are going to live in THIS moment of THIS day," she explained. "All of a sudden you wake up and look in the mirror and wonder who that old lady is staring back at you!"
 My Grandma took my hand and we both looked out across the horizon before us.
 "There is so much beauty in the world, but sometimes people are unable to see it."
The horizon ahead seemed so far away, just like this moment probably seemed so far away at one time. But it will come, one way or another... and it will be beautiful.
My wonderful Grandma and me at the Grand Canyon

I could blow this up and hang this in my house!

Hehe..."Don't get too close"

Beautiful Horizons

Inside Antelope Canyon, shaped like pottery

The red cliffs of Glen Canyon

My inspiration