Sunday, June 10, 2007

Don't Forget the Endings

A very familiar phrase suddenly caught my attention in church this morning. Our good friend Michael, a Unitarian Universalist divinity student, was the liturgist. Sometimes the same words sound different when spoken in a different voice - it could be the cadence, intonation, or maybe a new accent breathing life into the familiar. I suppose it could also simply be that we hear something more fully when we are ready to hear it. At any rate, something stood out for me today when Michael spoke the part about remembering that new beginnings also bring endings.

Well, of course. This is basic, a no-brainer. We talk about it, with the kids especially, all the time. The life cycle of the plants, leaves growing strong and green and then, some months later, dying and falling from the trees. Answering Baxter's question yesterday about how there could be any room left on earth when so many babies are always being born (welcome, baby Jonah!) - "Well, sweetie, it's because people are always dying, too."

But for some reason today, my thoughts went straight to what I am experiencing right this minute. It feels like a new beginning on so many levels. I mean, look at what I've been writing about for the past two weeks, full of elation: The kids are cute! And funny! Look at our beautiful yard! School's almost out! We're starting to have fun again! The weather is amazing and we live at the beach! Even the food tastes better now!

I so very much long to shut the door on the past year. Slam it on our cross-country move. Slam! There go the bad landlords who put our rental house on the market the moment we moved in. Slam! Bye-bye, second move in 9 months! I slam the door and then open it up and slam it shut again (but this time lock it with dead-bolts) on my Dad's cancer, treatments, and surgery. Good-bye to the long hours spent setting up my practice here and establishing myself with new families and colleagues. Adios, exhaustion and not enough down time!

We are in the early days of a new beginning and that is why I'm writing with crazy euphoria about absolutely everything right now. And yet those words in church this morning were a reminder. Don't slam the doors just yet. Yes, it was a really tough year. But it was a big year, an important year, and there is yet more to learn from it. Sure, I could just move forward, happy for a fresh start, and not look back. But it seems far wiser to leave the door open a crack for a while and think more about all I've learned and all the growth I've experienced. I need to focus on all that is ending, too, and not just on what is beginning. It's funny how quickly we want to put the hard times behind us when, in reality, I think they're the ones we learn more from.


Christopher Tassava said...

That's a great post which offers a lot of wisdom to ponder. I fully agree that it's useful "to leave the door open a crack for a while," not least because it's probably a good skill to teach the kids.

My own problem, though, is kind of the inverse: I am already seeing (well, imagining) the endings before the beginnings are really underway. I mean, Julia's just three, and I spend far too many hours thinking about what it'll feel like when she goes to college, or gets married, or (heaven forfend) gets seriously ill. Is this endemic to people, or to parents, too? What's the cure?

kristen said...

Yes Jordan, this is very wise. Thank you for this.

And Christopher, I don't believe there is a cure for anticipation. It's probably good for us, in a way. Gives us a chance to try on other roles, see what it might feel like, so when we finally get there, we can make the necessary adjustments.