I was walking a quiet trail around Radnor Lake when a favorite hymn, “Canticle of the Turning,” came to me. I am no musician, but the tune came easily. It has an Irish lilt to it, upbeat and hopeful. At first I only hummed the hymn but being alone and feeling brazen began bluffing my way through the lyrics. It seems walking alone in the woods summons the same musical confidence that I often find in the shower. So there I was gleefully trudging along the trail singing over and over the only line I correctly remembered, “Could the world be about to turn?”
I wonder now what transformed my worried self into this hymn singing wanderer on the South Lake Trail. The afternoon hike was a reward I promised myself for cleaning out the attic. Fueled by coffee, I spent the morning industriously culling Christmas decorations, the grandchildren’s toys, and an odd assortment of belongings that we stored over the years. When I was done I had an SUV full of donations, a large garbage bag full of trash, and the contents of the attic diminished by a third. This process of culling and decluttering began when I retired last fall. Early on there was no urgency to this project. Only the thought that one day we would downsize. Yet, the task has suddenly become more urgent and more onerous, because we now have a deadline. We are moving to a smaller house at the end of June. My world is truly “about to turn.”
As a friend once said, “Moving is not for the faint of heart.” This will be our first move in thirty years. The mere thought of it is as daunting as it is emotional. Restful sleep is in short supply and dreams do little to ease my mind. In fact, the week began with a particularly troubling dream. It was early in the morning, and I heard someone trying to get into our house through the garage door. I quietly walked down the few steps to the door and saw the knob was being ferociously jiggled on the other side. Terrified and unable to see who was lurking behind the door, I yelled, “I am calling the police!” I then heard someone say “It’s Betsy.” Two of my dearest friends are named Betsy and both are the kindest and gentlest of souls, but I did not recognize the voice. So I stood there too terrified to open the door. I woke up feeling unsettled and dismayed by my lack of courage.
Later as I pondered the dream, I realized that “Betsy” is often a nickname for Elizabeth. Elizabeth plays an important role in the birth of Christ. She was the first person Mary visited after saying “yes” to the angel Gabriel. Elizabeth, far beyond child bearing years, was also miraculously with child and affirmed the unfolding miracle in Mary. I cannot think of two women who were more open to the challenge of change than these two. Like Mary and Elizabeth, John and I are standing behind a metaphorical door leading to whatever is next. Maybe it isn’t as daunting as their doorway, but we are asked to muster our faith and courage as well. We, too, do not know what is beyond the door, perhaps an affirming “Elizabeth” or maybe not. Yet, choosing bravery, opening the door, and finding presence in this uncertain space seems to be our best option.
The following day as I was leaving my yoga class, I stood on the curb in front of the studio looking for my car. Usually, I park right by the door, but on this day I chose a different spot and couldn’t immediately locate it. I wondered out loud, “Where am I?” One of my classmates overheard me. I laughed and said the question sounded so “philosophical.” She laughed too but then wisely answered, “You are here.” Indeed I am here, and it is only in the presence of what is that I will manage this change. Dwelling on the past or fearing the future will only add to my uneasiness. It is here, in the now, that I must firmly plant my feet and take a steady stance in this ever turning world. ~c.h.