Autumn is here. I went on a walk/run after work today and it was cold enough to need a sweatshirt and warm enough to wear shorts and sandals. I've noticed that Spokane fall air smells dry and sweet, as if the golden autumn sun could impart a scent. The world takes on new depth and perspective.
In my long walks, when my thoughts are free and untethered, I connect the seasons to different life stages. Perhaps because fall is the transition from summer to winter, I connect it to a person moving from one life stage to the next. Like transitions in life, leaving summer behind is bittersweet. But fall, like a transition, is also lovely in its own right. Though we leave good things behind, the transition itself is worthwhile, too. With God's grace, I come to a better knowledge of myself in times of transition.
Women from my church meet once a month on a Tuesday evening to enjoy two hours together. Last night, we met for a wonderful dinner and time of sharing. The discussion leader read a list of words aloud, and we each took five minutes to share which word we identified with most at the present time. Most people identified with one of two words: loss and belonging.
The word I chose was transition, but as I reflected, I realized that the word "transition" for me encompasses both loss and belonging. On my walk today, I headed up the hill behind my house to Whitworth's campus. Two years ago, I belonged here. I lived, worked, ate, and played with friends here. I walked, talked, and struggled here. I marveled and anticipated here. But though the campus is still familiar, I don't belong there in the same way anymore. I belong to the tenuous world of adulthood. Tenuous because I'm still trying to figure out how it works.
There is sometimes a sense of loss, too. But only sometimes. Not because I'm not happy with life now, but rather because I can never go back to being an undergraduate student. A chapter in my life has closed and though it can be revisited in memory, it can never be re-lived.
Several of the women last night visited states over the summer where they had previously lived. Each one saw family members and old friends and felt that the visit had renewed the abiding, albeit long-distance, connections. One woman reflected, "When I was in Colorado, I realized that though I still belong with my friends and family there, I no longer belong to the place. It was a freeing feeling."
Her comment resonated with others in the room, and now that I think back on it, that's exactly how I feel about Whitworth. Though I belong with the people who are still at Whitworth, I no longer belong to Whitworth as a place. My daily life doesn't revolve around the school. And honestly, that's a freeing feeling. On Sunday, someone asked me if I missed being a student. My honest answer was, "No." There are things I miss about being a student, but overall, I'm savoring this time of transition between being a child and being an adult. With God's grace in this time of transition, I am coming to a better knowledge of myself.
Fall inspires me to think about these things. My life takes on new depth and perspective in the fall. Does yours? How?