Slow Down in the Turns
The morning after we moved our daughter home after college graduation, I thought we might be unpacking for a year. The hallway of my house looked like a triage center. Baskets of notebooks or sweaters, suitcases of nothing but shoes and boots, a cowhide chair, a standing mirror, six very large canvases, brushes and oil paints. Bedding, rugs, curtains and rods. Where am I going to put all this stuff,I wondered.
I went out to the garden because a cup of coffee and birds chirping and the sound of a fountain are a better way to start the day than staring at chaos. It seemed in the five days we’d been out of town that a wall of green had been erected around my yard. The trees were fully clothed for summer; the French Blue hydrangeas were in full bloom, and white yarrow was popping out. New gangly growth was sprouting from a shrub I planted only a week ago.
It almost took my breath away. It wasn’t like this last week when I left town, I thought.
My husband and I kept saying to each other and other parents with whom we visited at graduation, “It seems like yesterday we were dropping them off.” Eighteen-year-olds turn into twenty-two-year-olds almost as fast as toddlers grow. I remembered the first questions and answers of the catechism we taught our children when they were small. In my memory, I could hear their three -year-old voices answering my questions.
Who made you? God
What else did God make? All things.
Why did God make you and all things? For His own glory.
My preferred definition for glory is ‘magnificence or great beauty.' God makes things - hydrangeas, trees, cardinals, children, young adults with brand new degrees…for his own beauty…to display it for us and to enjoy it Himself.
The beauty, the glory, however, is not static. The breathtaking awe is precisely because it wasn’t like that last week. The new shrub hadn’t taken root, nor were the blue blooms visible. The explosion of green announcing summer hadn’t quite completed itself. Our last child hasn’t been a grown woman her whole life, but she is now.
The beauty is in the transition. It’s the movement, the surprise, the growth and change that bring about the glory. What was not, now is. Hope seems to be the eternal whisper.
Both of our children are headed into new phases of life at the same time, which means so are we. Gone are the long breaks of academia when they are home for a month at Christmas and a couple of weeks after a semester ends in May or maybe even for the summer. One of ours is moving 800 miles away in a matter of weeks. Spring is ending and summer is encroaching.
Slow down in the turns, I hear in my heart. Gardens, graduations, growth of children all seem to say this to me. I’ve walked labyrinths for a number of years and among the many things the labyrinth teaches is this: You must slow down in the turns. It’s nearly impossible to run in a labyrinth. (I’ve tried!) On the outer edges, you can sometimes build a little speed and walk it quickly; but as you near the center, the turns get tighter. You must slow down. If you don’t you’ll get dizzy and fall. You’ll miss the constantly changing view as your perspective on your surroundings is shifting. You must slow down and notice where you are putting your feet.
I wrote about practicing resurrection in my last blog, and I’m finding yet another way to practice it: Slow down in the transitions. Some of life looks like chaos - road construction, a job lost, spilled milk and snaggletoothed children, a failed Algebra test, U-Haul trailers, a difficult diagnosis. Slow down in the turns. A stone might roll away. A light might shimmer through a crack. A beauty of it’s own kind will be there tomorrow, though you can’t see it today.