Autumn has blown through Cherokee. It came so quickly, now the leaves are almost gone. And with autumn has come fresh, crisp air.
Maybe it started with running in the mornings, beating my body on the pavement at my least favorite time of day, with a couple local ladies. Getting to know them a little. Coming to find that I like being up early, when there is time to pray and wait for the light.
Or it started when I got assigned to teach the night GED class. Which I disliked at first because on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I come home from morning GED class around 3. I lie on the couch like a zombie until 4:30 catching up on TV, then drag myself off of it and head back for evening class. But then, it’s such a good class. Molly is the first student who has ever told me she enjoyed the Sylvia Plath poem, and she writes beautifully, and I wonder if I might just graduate my first English major. James is 65 and has worked his whole life as a carpenter and wants to get his GED just to see if he can—and he can. Ashley and Jake are so young, only 16 and 18, and it’s only when Ashley writes her essay I find out their baby daughter has cystic fibrosis. They are going to get married, and the world is stacked against them, and I want them to beat it so badly.
Or it started with this writing project. When I decided to write only the things I want to write, the stories that are inside me and want to be told. My marriage. My faith. My family. When I started collecting stories about my Grandfather who died earlier this year and writing them down for the family. When I connected with people through this writing.
Or it started when I went to seven weddings and a funeral this summer, and I started missing the feeling of being home.
It starts in a lot of places sometimes. Sometimes that’s the only way. But then one day I wake up and realize this might just be called joy.
And suddenly I have a new fear: not of plodding through this next year hazy, but of leaving yet another place I have grown to love. Grown to love slowly and skeptically and with many asterisks, sure, but nonetheless—yes, I must name it—grown to love.
It’s not a straight path, of course. This doesn’t mean I won’t be lonely again, couch-ridden again, resigned to anger again—this year, probably even this month.
But for the moment, I roll down the road playing my music and gawking at the blue sky and the orangey-red trees and the sparkling river and I feel amazed at the beauty of it all. I feel desire and drive and purpose and I revel in it, because it seems like it’s been so long. And it is a gift.