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The Birds of Transition

The Birds of Transition

Beloved –

I had plans for this week’s Reflections. I had discernment plans. Plans for the nature of guidance and what to do when you feel a lack of it. Plans for “Don’t just do something. Stay there!” Plans about not just running away, but turning toward.

But those plans are going to have to wait for another day.

They were good plans, but there’s something more pressing and necessary I need to write to you about.

It’s that danged thing that comes around every now and again: transition.

It comes about in so many ways, and I’m more aware of it this week than I have been in a very long time.

One person is facing what it means to enter palliative care and ultimately, to go into hospice care.

Another person is moving far away from dear friends to seek new opportunities, new beginnings, a new jumping-off place.

Someone else faces their next round of chemotherapy, while both they and their spouse deal with the frustratingly cumulative effects of the drugs.

Someone else finds that what they had believed their ministry to be is just not sustainable, and they have to find a new way forward, a new way into the future that they had never imagined before.

They’re all scared.

We’re all scared.

Anyone in transition, no matter whether that transition feels “positive” or “negative”—we’re all dealing with new ways we have to think, new plans we have to make (or at least, new plans we are making), new places to call, new people to talk to, new things to do, new ways to order our lives, new ways to think about the end of life.

New, new, new.

And all of this through the symptoms of transition.

Yes, I mean, “symptoms,” like real, physical, mental, and observable symptoms. I mean brain fog, that terribly difficult feeling that you just can’t find the words you need, that you just need more time to think, and that things that were easy a week ago seem harder now.

I’m talking about clumsiness. Yes, clumsiness in our interpersonal relationships—the snappishness that can come from the frustration of everything that’s happening within and around us. But really I mean physical clumsiness. Check it out. Those who’ve had PMS or who have been perimenopausal will recognize the feeling.

And I mean grief and all that it entails.

Grief and exhaustion.

Even when something good is coming, it means that we’re leaving something behind, a space, a place, somewhere where something might be filled in in our lives. And we often grieve what is lost to make that space.

Last night I heard from a woman who had to have some trees in her yard cut down. Between a mature apple tree on one side and a filbert tree on the other (how lovely, right?), three trees came down.

She is going to plant something new in that space. A new tree.

But in the meantime, it’s just a space.

It’s just an empty expanse of air.

Air through which birds are flying back and forth, back and forth, from the apple to the filbert, as though… as though they’re wondering what happened to their waystation between these two remaining bookends.

She says they fly back and forth, back and forth across that small stretch of openness. She imagines them—or maybe they are—bewildered, wondering at the changes in their home landscape. What has happened? And how and why?

I am in transition. In transition I welcome and transition I do not welcome one bit. And you, my dear ones at The Way of the River, you are coming along for the ride, as long as you’re here or in the Facebook Community Group. You’ll be seeing evidence of my grief, my openness, my sadness, my delight, my surprise, my anger, and my joy, I have no doubt.

I find myself flying back and forth and back and forth over the spaces in my life that are changing. I am looking at the ground and wondering what will grow there and who will plant it. Will it be I? I will almost certainly have a hand in planting the new growth (to mix my metaphors aggressively), but maybe not quite yet.

Maybe for now, I’m just going to rest. Just going to let the feelings wash over me.

Maybe for now, I’m just going to try to be gentle with myself and acknowledge my clumsiness.

Maybe for now, I’m just going to look for what seedlings may sprout where there is space for them there didn’t used to be.

How are you in transition now, if you are? And what will you do with that time? What are you doing with the time?

For now, I’m going to be here, sitting quietly with you, watching and listening to the birds as they fly back and forth, waiting for new waystations, new branches, new nesting places to appear.

Blessings of love to you, my dear –


PS – Speaking of birds….For the early birds among us, have you marked your calendars for December 14th?

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