Life comes full circle sometimes. This week I’m staying up at the institute where I work for another meeting we’re hosting on vocation. And the apartment where I’m staying is the same place I stayed two summers ago for a week-long writing workshop.
I remember sitting on this same couch, as pregnant and uncomfortable then as I feel now, writing until the wee hours of the morning every night. The week was intense, exhausting, emotional and full of hard work. And I loved every minute. It was tranformational and vocational. It was the first time I realized that I could be a writer. Not necessarily A Writer in the grand, professional sense. But that writing would somehow, mysteriously, intimately, be woven into my vocation. And so I would need to dedicate space and time and hard work to slowly discern where that would lead me.
I wrote a lot about pregnancy that week. After our season of infertility, I was still coming to terms with what it meant that there was a child growing within me, that I was becoming a mother. I wrote a lot about transitions, the strange mix of exhilaration and terror of finding oneself on the brink of life change. Not only was I leaving behind the familiar world of graduate school, but I was also stepping into the strange new world of parenting. My identity was shifting in ways I could only begin to sense.
But mostly I just wrote, a lot. And tore apart my own writing and listened as others tore it apart for me and marveled as I saw myself create something even better out of the pieces. It was a rare blessing to have the chance to be simultaneously challenged and affirmed in something I loved, something important, something that mattered deeply to me.
This week I have looked out over the same lake, the same summer-green trees, the same lazy dragonflies. And during the few quiet moments in the midst of a busy seminar, I have again thought about pregnancy, about transitions, about standing on the edge of my world preparing to transform one more.
All this makes me grateful for the places we can go to do our good thinking, our deep reflecting. The places we create our art and our beauty. The places that inspire us.
Nature often affords us these sacred spaces. Churches and retreat centers do, too. Even corners of our own homes – the kitchen where we create, the workshop where we build, the office where we write. We claim these corners as our own; we find ourselves there. And perhaps, if we pay close attention, we find God there, too.
In a world of constant flux, where we ourselves are always changing (even if imperceptibly), it is a gift to return to these places that change slowly, if at all. They remind us where we have been and where we are heading. They remind us that life has lovely pockets of consistency, and so do we, deep down. They remind us who we are at our core.
Tonight is the last night I will spend alone before this baby arrives. Next time I stay in this same place, the leaves will have changed to autumn reds and golds. There will be two children entrusted to a babysitter back at home. There will be an early morning wake-up to make sure the youngest one still has milk (oh, how I have not missed that chore of maternal separations). My world will once again be transformed from the way it feels and looks today. And as always, I can only begin to imagine what that will bring.
Which makes me all the more grateful for a brief moment, a beautiful place, and a wide view all to myself. For one more night, at least.