September: Autumn in the Northwest, Springtime in New Zealand

When our grandson Joe was much younger than his present ‘nearly eleven’ years, he was constantly amused and delighted by hemispheric opposites.  During weekly telephone calls he would giggle because we were having lunch yesterday while he was having breakfast today, because it was raining outside our windows while the sun shone through his, and when we had plans for a summer day at the beach, his Mum and Dad were taking him and his sisters off to the mid-winter snow on the mountains.

So here we are in the Northwest clinging to the last days of summer, watching the approaching harvest colors of fall, all the while anticipating the fresh new beginnings of a springtime downunder.  We are going home.

This week the ELL classes for whom I wrote ‘I Am Jesus’, began their first quarter of the new school year.  My contribution to the Lord’s work has rightly passed to other hands. While still affectionately anticipating news of my project’s usefulness, I have let it go. Yet not without some sorrow. Like a nurse who cares for and becomes attached to the premature baby she nurtures to full term, I conscientiously incubated my writing for others to cradle. Yes, there was joy in the achievement, but there was also mourning in the completion. And after the handing over, it has taken more effort than expected to regather energy and to reorient vision in order to turn and see the new and exciting projects that lie ahead.

All the while I was working at letting go in order to move on in my writing, it was becoming clearer to both Dave and I that a premature move back home to New Zealand was pending. Our seven years in Seattle were coming to an abrupt end.  It was time to start letting go our adopted home in order to be able to turn and move on to the next season of our lives.

To help with this unexpected transition, we have been savoring as many ‘lasts’ as possible, like autumn leaves that defiantly turn gold, crimson and amber as they cling to the memory of a beautiful green summer. So we have savored the colors of everyday things like our last shopping excursions to Bellevue Mall, Costco, and the Seattle Premuim Outlets and our last restaurant meals at Canyons, Palomino, and Olive Garden, and we have savored the colors of our last road trip north along I-5 to Theresa’s time share at Birch Bay with a side trip to Lyndon then home via Fairhaven, Bellingham, and the picturesque Chuckanut Drive.  Then on Sunday, we began savoring farewells to friends during a bitter-sweet last supper with our home group. In the midst of the good-byes, we are making time to savor the last of our home with frequent breaks in the warmth, peace, and beauty of lingering summer days on our great back deck.

As we try to slow the departing and the approach of fall, we are also speeding towards a fresh new South Pacific spring.  While we are packing and cleaning the house, we are also researching and purchasing airfares and shipping space and applying for jobs back home.  We savor and we let go, we linger and we regather energy, we remember and we reorient.  In the anticipation, there is also pain.

But we can take comfort and we can take hope.  With Ruth Myers we declare that our God “knows too much to be unwise and loves too much to be unkind” (31 Days of Praise); with Abraham we believe against all hope so that it might be counted to us as righteousness (Hebrews 11); with Solomon we commit our way to the Lord and trust in him (Proverbs 3); and with Jeremiah we believe that God’s plans are to prosper us and not to harm us, they are plans to bring us hope and a future (Jeremiah 29). Standing on these wonderful promises in God’s word and in the company of all these saints old and new, we choose to look forward to a bright new day.

“Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed. For his compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion therefore I will wait for him.  The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him. It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” Lamentations 3:21-26