Fuchsia Blossoms and Bidding Farewell

There are two crepe myrtle trees along the walkway leading from our basement door up to the driveway. In the last few days, they have both begun to erupt in color, bearing those rich fuchsia blossoms so fragrant and lovely. Hardly a day goes past that I don’t stop on my way to or from the driveway, pausing to bury my face in a blossom and smell the aroma that takes me back to my childhood.

When I was a little girl, growing up in a suburban Raleigh neighborhood, we had a line of crepe myrtle trees bordering our property, awash in fuchsia blossoms each July. I know several (if not most) of the trees were actually on our neighbor’s land, but our dear little old neighbor lady didn’t mind a bit. So my sister and my friends and I climbed the trees, standing in imaginary castles, swinging down on branches, and surveying our luxurious “estate” from the  grand prospect of three feet off the ground. Those are sweet memories.

Now, as the crepe myrtle trees blossom here by the walkway, the last days of July are upon us. A dear friend wrote to me this morning of how she found myriads of spider webs on her back deck, hearkening, in a tiny way, the beginning of the end of this season of summer. So too we have had the beginning of the end of our time here in Virginia. These last few weeks have been what I might call a “Parade of Last Things.” We have had a last church fellowship, a last time in the home of friends. Soon we will be teaching our last music lessons, my dear husband will have his last day of work, and we will have our last Sunday in church here.

This whole saying-goodbye business is hard. My dear mother and I have often adopted what we affectionately call the “ripping off the Band-Aid” method. Rather than prolong the goodbye, we take a few dear, sweet last moments together and then part quickly, aching for the farewell but glad to have finished it. Presently, however, I do not have that luxury. This farewell is stretched over weeks and between homes, here, there, and everywhere. It comes, over and over each day, bringing its own terrible ache even as we look beyond the goodbye to the days ahead. Naturally, it takes weeks (or even months) to leave one season and enter the next. All the same, and especially with these last few breathtaking sunsets over the mountains, my heart still aches. We are in the already-but-not-yet, no longer fully at home here, but still not sundered.

But God is faithful, always and ever.

So I stop and smell those fuchsia blossoms, remembering the dear days of girlhood and looking forward to the days to come, when we shall still live as pilgrims, already and not-yet-fully basking in God’s goodness.

Winds of Change

We pulled into the driveway at 8:30 pm on Saturday evening. With seat belt unbuckled, my hand poised on the car door handle, I was ready to leap out and rescue the disconsolate Daisy from her long imprisonment in the car seat. We were home at last. After three straight weeks of family visiting and visiting family, it was finally back to normal, the three of us in our little home by the alpacas and the mountains.

Those three weeks were sweet. My mother and sister sojourned in our home, delighting in Daisy, savoring fellowship, and serving and blessing us tremendously. Then, as we traveled back to North Carolina, Little Daisy met great-grandparents, our own parents loved on us and blessed us, and we treasured time with siblings, friends, and extended family. It was a dear time back in our childhood homeland.

Home at last.

Home at last.

Now, though, it is Monday. After a Lord’s Day of worship and resting, we are thoroughly entrenched back in daily life. Construction has begun upstairs in our landlord’s home on a refurbished bathroom, so our morning was full of hammering and other noises. Laundry is everywhere, clean and otherwise, and the geometry lesson for tomorrow must be planned.

Even as the travels were sweet, the coming home was bittersweet. This was our last return to the hills of Virginia. In a matter of weeks, we will pack up our home and move to the big City, where it will be a season of making a new home and building new friendships. Now, our talk is of new renters (and when they’ll move in) and new landlords (and when they’ll move out). We hope and pray and plan for the transition even as we savor these present days. It is a time of “in between-ness” — living in the now while we actively prepare for the future. We wait in faith, girding ourselves for the forthcoming challenges.

And so the proverbial winds of change are blowing. As I write this, a cup of tea brings solace. God’s faithfulness is unchanging. Onward I press…

Christ in the City

The words came fast today. My heart was full, so I am posting a day earlier than usual. Forgive any errors or encumbrances in the words; they tumbled out, one over another, too quickly to carefully craft. My soul had much to say.

The sun has returned. After the steady rain of the past few days, this morning dawned bright and clear. I walked into the kitchen at 6:20 am, marveling at the light already spilling through the shades on our doors and window. It was as if the world was already radiant in the knowledge that the sun would come up today in all its glory. And so it did.

After doing a laundry load of cloth diapers and cleaning up the kitchen from breakfast, I took my geometry manual outside to the porch swing to plan for the class I teach. A cool breeze was blowing, and the birds were singing all around me. Peaceful in their pen, the alpacas leisurely grazed and ate their hay, while crows swooped over them, loudly discussing their morning business.

Swinging gently on the porch swing, I quietly took in all the loveliness before me. Living in the Virginia countryside delights my soul. The country is home. I remember as a child always feeling so gloriously fulfilled when we went to my grandmother’s farm in Pennsylvania. Shoes came off as I ran up and down the hills and meadows. I always ended up in the milking parlor, boot-clad, aproned, soothing the ladies as they swayed in their stalls. I explored the fields, gathering wildflowers, wading in the ice-cold creek that came down from the mountains. I sat on the porch swing under the tall black walnut tree, reading or simply gazing through the leafy trees to the mountains. The aroma of the farm filled the air. It was peace, joy, fulfillment. It was home.

Now, newly-wed, mother to a darling little girl, I have been back in the country this past year-and-a-half, though now in Virginia. The two-lane highway in front of the house still has trucks going by, just like the farm, and there are horses and cows across the road. At night I hear the peeping frogs and the lowing cows. The farm fragrance still permeates the air. And I still see mountains through the leafy trees.

Our little home in the country has brought such joy. Washing dishes in view of the mountains is bliss. I love coming home to the smell of the barn, and opening the window in the kitchen brings in such pure, fresh air each day. It has been a dream come true to make our home here.

Now, though, our thoughts turn to the home we will soon inhabit. Come August, we will pack up our belongings and move to the big City Up North, where there won’t be cows or mountains or farm smell. Instead, there will be lots of people. Homes squashed together, wall to wall, and busy streets. Trees will be few and far between in our neighborhood, and I hope for birdsong—just maybe.

After all the fulfillment of this country home, how will my soul stay in the City? Physically, yes, I will live and work in our household and be a mother and wife in this new home. But sometimes I wonder how my heart will stay well when its soul-roots are steeped in farm air and mountain sight.

Then, amidst the little seedlings of fear, I remember God’s promises. He led His people out of bondage and through the wilderness. He made the bitter waters sweet. And He sent bread from heaven. He brings the weary rest, and He brings peace and joy to the heavy-laden. His promises are true in the country and in the City. He is Emmanuel. God with us. He will come with us to the City and will bring my soul rest.

And so, on this sunny morning, I savor my view from the porch swing. The sun bathes the grass in front of me with radiance, and the birds sing in choral majesty. These moments are precious, and I drink in their sweetness. I will miss them in the City, but the cloud and the pillar go before us. Christ will be with us. Christ is in the City. And He is my Shepherd who will lead me beside still waters and restore my soul.