Back To Life in the Time of Endings

I had a teacher in fourth grade named Vicki Lowery.  Mrs. Lowery was cool because she was the lead singer in a rockin' country band (in fact, I think she STILL is, which is fairly astonishing) and she wasn't afraid to really engage and be kind of intense with us, which was okay, because if you really remember fourth grade, IT was kind of intense. 

I'm thinking of her lately because of a creative writing project we did in my class at St. Columba all those years ago.  We were to choose a picture and then write some kind of prose piece about it.  My photo was of a mountain scene in fall, probably not too far off from what I'm seeing all around me here in Utah this time of year.  The color in the scene was spectacular, and the mountain majestic and huge.  It was a big, loud nature moment, much different from the more subtle changes we generally experienced in nature in my little hamlet of Illinois.

I wrote my piece, highlighting something about all the "richest triumph of color" and how "this is the exuberant PEAK of nature's splendor."   And being a happily nerdy/wordy kind of girl even then, I turned it in and waited for a good grade and positive affirmation.   Instead, Mrs. Lowery just scribbled the pointed comment:  "Is it REALLY?," leaving me smack in middle of the brave new world of revisions.  

I was confused.  Had I not totally nailed the gist of the photo? And autumn itself?  What the ?!

So we talked about it, Mrs. Lowery and I, and she just sort of shrugged and said, "Well, autumn DOES have bright colors, but underneath that there's a lot of other stuff that's about death, and endings, you know?  Things closing down and curling up for winter...endings more than triumphs or peaks, in my opinion." And I got it.  Something changed in me, and I started looking harder for deeper, more real themes in whatever I was asked to examine, not just the ones that sounded good or were obvious from the surface.

And that brings me to here, in the middle of a gorgeous -- dare I even say exuberant Utah autumn -- and we're starting new chapters all over the place, Mark and I, and Daisy.  We're esconced daily in fresh, exciting details of new spaces and faces, all the while saying ready goodbyes to chapters that left us frustrated or saddened or constricted or tired.  

Which is the interesting rub.  For me, at least.  

Because now I'm seeing that below the surface meaning of things, yes, there IS usually a deeper, more universal theme, but there can also be very powerful personal ones that we may choose to nurture and recognize.  And though I have totally heard and agreed with you, Mrs. Lowery, that autumn is a time of closing down and endings, THIS fall I feel an aliveness in my core that signifies a different kind of beginning.  Maybe it's a beginning that won't take place for awhile -- just a whisper of something. . . a gesture of change or possibility -- but it's real and it's moving me forward and it feels good.  Definitive.  Like roots and strength.  Like hot coffee.  Like waking from a great nap.

See you soon.  And if I look different, it's 'cause I am. 


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