I stand today in the middle of two starkly different life celebrations. Yesterday, a friend of mine, Samuel, went to be with Jesus. Tomorrow, I turn twenty-three. The one, a celebration of a race well-run, a fight well-fought. The other, a celebration of a race still-running, a fight still-fighting.
Year twenty-two of life on this blue-green dot called earth has been difficult. It has been about embracing the season I am in and not being afraid of my feelings. It has been about moving forward through tides of transition and keeping my eyes above the waves. This year has also brought countless fond memories and new experiences, and has sprouted some already-precious friendships.
Reflecting on the past year reminds me of just a few days ago. I was walking around my neighborhood in eighty-seven degree weather when I came across a tree dropping leaves like tears. It was beautiful. It was strange. It was autumn in what seemed like the thick of summer. I stopped and took a picture. Why?
Because in the middle of the expected came something unexpected.
Out of the not yet came the coming soon.
From routine came a reminder that life is always in transit.
I won’t ask why the tree was shedding leaves so early. There could be a thousand reasons. When I saw the tree, I felt at once sad of summer’s parting, happy of fall’s entrance, wary of winter’s long reach and faintly hopeful for the renewal of spring. I stopped. I noticed.
Today, I will stop and notice. I will accept the unpredictable nature of grief and the constancy of God’s presence. I will stop trying to direct my feelings and instead fill my mind with the will and Word of God. Hope carried my friend Samuel to glory, and hope will carry me into year twenty-three.