A dear friend wrote on her blog this week words that I have sometimes tried to say, but she managed to say them so eloquently - "This blog is a place I work things out, and for those of you who’ve read for a while, you know that takes many shapes. Often it can be a celebration of what is good and right in my corner of the world because I need to remember the glimmers of beauty while I work out the hard things, and I’m a person who needs to work out the hard things."
And another eloquent friend wrote, "Grief, so often, is what hands us the pen."
This is me, taking the pen and working out the hard things.
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We're looking for a new home. And I find myself rebelling at another forced goodbye, that same feeling as a child when you have no say in the matter and you'd rather wrap your legs tight around the chair as you're being gently yanked away. It's been a while since I wasn't ready to leave a place, and I've lived in eight places in the last twelve years. I know, it's *only* a place and home is where the people you love are; but when you've moved from place to place to place all your life, you don't take for granted when place begins to take root and burrow into your heart.
Our apartment here, on Mercer Island, has been a refuge. One sweet spot of calm in the throes of a stormy season. Our first home together. The view from our front windows is of the Cascade mountains and Lake Washington, with a colorful totem pole and white gazebo left of center. Each day when I cross the bridge from Seattle to the island, I inhale peace and exhale the hectic energy of the city I've left just a few miles behind.
There really is nothing here in comparison to the colorful dining and shopping and arts options the city offers. And, much to my surprise, I love it more for that reason. I've grown to appreciate that the only place to buy groceries near us is the neighborhood QFC little more than a mile from us, where I recognize the checkers and courtesy clerks. I love Anna from Vietnam, who cuts my hair at Great Clips across from the grocery store, and the ladies at the U.S. bank kitty corner from there, where the line moves at island pace. I sometimes treat myself to a visit at Stopski's Deli, the only place on the island that serves Stumptown coffee and homemade baked goods, right next door to Island Books, which reminds me of how a bookstore should feel, even though I can't often afford to buy them new.
I have many fond memories of Mercer Island Thrift Store, where I've hunted for children's books and jeans and board games and soccer cleats; where I ran into a kind stranger when I was in a cast and hobbling on crutches and she offered to be my friend. I still have her business card, though I never did call her.
And then there are my only friends on the island, the women I visit each Tuesday at the nursing home. No matter how tired I am when I arrive there, straight from work, I always leave with a full heart, even if it's aching at the pain I've brushed up against.
Oh, be still my soul, then there's Luther Burbank park, just a half mile from us, where I gritted my teeth and walked in sweltering summer heat trying to learn to walk again when the boot came off, coming home with swollen leg. And I swam - oh, how I swam - and the water rose up to kiss me, liquid therapy for my spirit. This park, it's seen me through seasons.
I have our kitchen arranged just so, my favorite room in our small casita, the place where I feel most at home. The place where I've cooked and baked and cleaned, wept and danced and prayed. And for the first time in my life, I think I've become a "home body", because I'm content to putter around the house for hours now, without the restless itch to leave.
I've known all along, love at first sight, how hard it would be to leave this place. I didn't know how hard it would be not having the choice to stay, not knowing how we will afford the move, how hard the struggle to trust that there is something "better" up ahead. It's another trust test, piled atop a teetering heap of others, to let go of the place that feels most like home and go to where I don't know when I still feel in need of a physical refuge. And how I wept at these sweet words my Mama sent me yesterday, reminding me of where my faith right now feels so small: God provides a place for the desolate to live.
I don't want to speak it, but I choke it out around the lump in my throat, the words of a song that have been with me through darkest nights.
When hope is lost, I'll call you Savior
When pain surrounds, I'll call you HealerWhen silence falls, you'll be the song within my heart
I will praise you
I will praise you
When the tears fall, still I will sing to you
I will praise you
Jesus, praise you
Through the suffering, still I will sing