The vernal equinox of the soul … And birds

“A waiting person is a patient person. The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us.”

― Henri Nouwen

Ice has finally broken on the Grand River as it passes by the back yard of the home in which we live. Finally, winter and my winter are loosening their grip.

My winter: Moving to a new state creates a perma-winter for a while, and I’ve been looking for more than buds and grass since we moved in a year ago. I’ve been looking for life, but it wasn’t in the flowers, the lush green last summer; they hinted at abundance, but it was missing people, context.

I was so lonely — the kind of lonely that doubts, that resents potholes and medicinal marijuana signs along ugly, ugly main thoroughfares; the kind of lonely that remembers only sidewalks and sunrises on long morning runs in my old city. And the people. My church.

Thinking about starting over felt like lead in my belly — heavy, painful. Did we miss the signs? Were we making up that call to Michigan? 

My uncle saw me in my doubt last summer. “When my friend moved,” he said, gently, “she said it took her a while, but that eventually, she had to take down the pictures from her old house.”

Then, was when I knew: though I nodded at the phrase “Now is important,” I didn’t actually believe it. And at that moment, I decided, cognitively first, to choose to be alive where I live. It’s not that the pictures pasted all over my heart weren’t important, but that right now is more so. Not that remembering wasn’t crucial to knowing who we were, but that who we’re becoming is more so.

I’ve spent the last two, three seasons learning to be in the now. It changed how I pray, from desperate longing to quiet peace (and more grateful begging, ha). 

The red-winged’s arrival last week meant more than winter’s end.  I felt a little of the new life springing up. The putting off the old homesickness and the putting on new projects, people and avenues of growth.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had three of my heartiest, most persistent, most painfully raw prayers answered, and I’m overwhelmed with the way God has said “wait for it, wait for it … wait for it — and NOW.”


Now is being asked to “vision” a new direction for Sunday school and lead the team at our new church, and saying yes. Now is a merganser yesterday, a common goldeneye pair today. A stranger asking me if I still did Charlotte Mason, and if I’d like to meet about that? And a letter from one of my dearest friends, to remind me that she still knows my heart. A spontaneous walk along the river downtown with a new friend and her two. A day at the zoo with my mom. Cranes in a field next to me while I ran. A coffee date next week with a friend who asks questions in earnest and answers them honestly. More sunshine.

This is “streams of mercy never ceasing.” It is. 

For more than a year, three times a week, I’ve run and prayed, run and prayed. I’ve felt my chest would explode with expectation, and I’ve cried at mile 11 because everything was just. so. hard.

But as I completed a 13-miler last weekend, I whooped and laughed to no one and drove myself home quietly.  I don’t have and won’t have replacements for the buckets-full of prayers I’ve spent the last year requesting, for the things I’ve left behind.  And that’s OK.

Because this new life springing up is like walking into the “Australia” room in the bird house at the zoo. Everything’s new, and though I could’ve prayed for colorful birds, I couldn’t have dreamed up the details.

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