Sitting in my hotel room last week in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, I found myself staring out the window at this view. The landscape, the grey, the snow...it took me back to Clifton, Virginia and my childhood. I was surprised at the flood of feelings. Does that ever happen to you? Smells, sights, songs...they mark our stories and can draw us back in time without warning. For so long anything that sent me back to Virginia made me sad. We moved to California when I was 16 and to say I was unhappy about that is an understatement. I was in a state of youthful devastation. And I lived out of that place for many years. Sometimes it sent me into achievement mode, sometimes it sent me into bars. Pain can do that right? The pain gets buried, but the energy it takes to keep it there can get us a little sideways.
One of the really deep healing moments for me was a visit to Virginia for my 50th birthday (yes 50 is a long way from 16...when I say buried I mean buried!). My "therapist"/very patient friend Cheryl came with me. We retraced my childhood...visiting each home, and visiting my father on our last stop. It was extremely painful, but I was ready to let it rise up and feel it. I cried a lot. I got angry. I got very quiet. I stared out the window of the car a lot as we drove from address to address, often with tears running down my face. It was a jolt to go back, to trace the story of my childhood, to let the memories come and to feel it all. I'd say looking back that I was grieving, finally. It was pretty amazing having someone smart enough and loving enough to just be present through all of that. Cheryl is a good gift from God!
A full 12 years later, as I sat in my hotel room and was drawn back to winter in my beloved home state...and I didn't feel sad. This is what surprised me. Instead, I felt...peace. I want to say I felt and feel more whole. This is a work God has done in my soul as I've moved toward the pain, not alone, and worked through the losses. There is still a bit of melancholy...but there is also joy. What beauty in the winter landscape--then and now! Snow is magical...quiet and beautiful, it swallows up sound and causes pause. Everything slowed down because of the storm in Indiana, and everything slowed down in Virginia every time it snowed. I was "stuck" in my hotel room but I didn't feel stuck at all. I was remembering the peaceful feeling of putting our horses safe and warm in the barn, well fed and blanketed, and wrapping myself up in a blanket to enjoy the mystery of a cold, snowy evening. These are good memories now, I'm so grateful.