Roll away your stone, I’ll roll away mine
Together we can see what we will find
Don’t leave me alone at this time,
For I am afraid of what I will discover inside
It seems that all my bridges have been burned,
But, you say that’s exactly how this grace thing works
It’s not the long walk home that will change this heart,
But the welcome I receive with the new start.
I have not been writing. My words have been caught in the slow moving amber sap of internal criticism, more depraved and dangerous that anything external. The critic says, I must have something Important to say, something witty or clever or entertaining or beautiful. It’s so subtle, how the critic plucks away the grains of sand, undermining yourself, pebble by pebble, until you confuse the uncertainty for reality.
This morning, in the early slanting glow of the October sunlight, I nudged the critic with the toe of my boot and told her to get the hell out. I write for me. I write because it’s how I make sense of my life. I write to open the doors of my swirling, creative mind, and let the clearing winds take my feeble offerings up in gusts and eddies, leaving me clear and free, sanctified, able to see and climb the mountain that is life.
There is tremendous change, as there always is in the autumn- it’s my season. It’s where I come home and am safe enough, always, to inventory and cull and sow and reap. Things are not easy, clearly illustrated in the few cards I’ve tipped to the table lately, but it’s also so very good. If nothing else, my faith— in God, in plans strewn about, in my friends, in my own ability to do hard things, in life, in love— allows me a grace that can only be explained as a gift. It’s not my own- or at least, I am not its source.
My program for grad school might be changing. I won’t know until November, and while that’s nerve-wracking in and of itself, grace lets me know if those changes take place, there is a reason, and there is a more perfect program for me. I am being nearly offered a spot in a different program, at the same college, and I’ve been wrestling with the enticing demon of “a bird in the hand is better than….” But I have come to the decision that I should shop for exactly what I want, and not settle. Part of this grace thing, garnered over time, is that there is a bigger plan I may not see.
Not settling is a recurring, spiral theme- winding up like helix, giving me the same lessons, from a slightly different vantage point as life progresses. For years I confused battling with being strong. I am fearless, I would proclaim, swathed in armor with sword raised, ready to defend and war with life and love. I don’t want to fight anymore. I want to set down my battle-scarred shield and twisted sword, and find peace. It was necessary to have those skills, hindsight makes brilliantly clear, but wisdom also means recognizing the season changes, and knowing when to unstrap the sheathes, unthread the gauntlets, and set down the weary bones. There comes a point where the defenses once used to survive, once so necessary, become barriers to feeling new life.
I am happy. For the first time in a long time, I am content. I conquered some ridiculously hard things, and it’s possible the season (or at least the day) has come where I am allowed to lie down by the river, trail my fingers in the cooling water, watch the gold, pumpkin and scarlet leaves swirl against the azure autumnal sky, and exhale.