Image Credit: Ideals magazine
A New Chapter
By Sandra Lloyd
I took one final look around at this place that had been our home, our haven for so many years that I hardly could remember being anyplace else. It hadn’t been “all good”, life never is, but it had been secure, a soft place to be when the world “out there” had often been treacherous.
But things were changing now, and it was time to go. Onward to what was next.
What was next? I didn’t really know. Other than the fact that a chapter had ended, and a new and unfamiliar one was now beginning. With heavy and tremulous heart, I managed to draw a deep breath past the sobs I refused to release, and forced myself on leaden feet, to turn and walk out through that beloved threshold for the final time.
“God”, I prayed, “I know that you know what you are doing, but just for the record, I don’t like this”. And with that, we left behind everything that was familiar, and headed West.
We took turns and drove through the night, mile after endless mile, until it was all a blur. We would be cutting it a little close, he was due to report to work bright and early Monday morning, but by switching off behind the wheel, and stopping only for the obligatory refueling of cars and tummies, potty, and stretch breaks, we should be able to make it in time to blow up the air mattresses and get a good nights rest. It all felt sort of like a strange dream to me. I guess I probably was in a state akin to shock. The flat green miles of Virginia were far behind us, and already the scenery outside the window looked completely different. The hills of Kentucky were pretty. Some parts of Missouri were breathtaking, and soon I found myself mesmerized by God’s creativity and the unique variations from one state to the next. Each place we stopped the folks seemed friendly, not so much like strangers, but almost like folks who could be my friends and neighbors, were we to end our trek here. People are people, wherever you go, I guess.
Before I knew it, my dread and heaviness had begun to give way to a different and long-forgotten feeling. Could it be? Adventure, at this stage of my life? I was incredulous, to say the least. Our life had become so confined for so many years, due to circumstances that were largely outside our control. We’d done the best we could to follow the example of the Apostle Paul, and be content, and I believe we were content, if not wholly satisfied. But we stopped dreaming a long ways back. After a while, we no longer dared to get our hopes up; too many disappointments, too many set-backs.
You know, it was funny, but by the time we made the next-to-the-last turn, onto the street that would now be “our street”, my dread had morphed into a sort of nervous excitement. I could almost swear there was hope, even anticipation in my heart. It was a new beginning. How often I had longed for newness in the old circumstances somehow. I began to notice that I was standing a little straighter, even leaning into the future a little. Giving up the familiar was maybe not so bad after all. I felt lighter than I had in years.
As we pulled up in front of the house we had thus far only seen in pictures, I lingered a moment, wanting to form a picture of my own. I wanted to remember this moment, because if I knew anything, I knew that it doesn’t take long at all for many years to pass and for new experiences to turn into memories. We’d raised our kids in the old house. Would this one see our sons take wives, and make us grandparents? Yes, it was an unusual age for pulling up stakes and putting down new roots, but in a way, I felt years younger. I guess newness has that effect. God, it’s been a long, long time since we had “looked forward” to anything. You get to the place where you keep your eyes only on what is right in front of you. What you have to get through. You learn as you age, that the vitality you hope to regain, isn’t coming back, you tear a few entries off the old “things I hope to do” list, and you end up just muddling through. Yet from time to time, your spirit rises up, tries to pull you into the clouds where you used to soar. But those old cinder-blocks of work-a-day life, don’t let that kite get far.
In a rare encore appearance, my daring spirit reached right up into my mental kite and cinder block image, and darn if she didn’t cut that string! I could swear I saw her wink!
“You gonna sit there daydreaming all day, or are you gonna get out of that car and start your new life?
I chuckled, then smiled up into the eyes of my dear husband. New hope glimmered in his own eyes. I took the proffered hand, and with a spring in our steps, together we crossed a brand new threshold.
Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.”
Hope is a thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet never in extremity
It asked a crumb of me.
Emily Dickenson (1830-1886)