Bittersweet

I don’t think I have ever seen the geese flying south over the Atlantic. Usually I’m standing near a field somewhere in Vermont when I first hear the honking then see the miraculous formation. It never ceases to amuse me, the way they fall in line, how there’s almost always one that needs to catch up. The incredible fortitude with which they carry out the task, year after year.

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In what feels like just a few minutes she will be starting high school. And not long after that both boys will graduate from college. How funny, this passage of time, changing of the seasons, boys to men … girl power exploding in all directions. The funny, funny way that life proceeds, whether we want it to or not.

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We have come to the sea to get our bearings before we enter into this new season. Last week I made the decision to step away from the church in the fall and my folks seemed to have sold their house in southern Vermont. One day officially on the market and a young family swooped in and made an offer.

Mom and Dad built that house, side-by-side, Mom getting the tools, sweeping the floors, making sandwiches; Dad building a home out of nothing, from the ground up, wood and concrete and glass and stone. Cabinets, countertops, tile, a view that always made everything OK. Sam took some of his first steps there; Christmas mornings, Nanny’s pie, starry summer nights, the sound of the stream down at the bottom of the hill. Sledding, the boys on skis for the very first time. So many wonderful beginnings there, and now comes an ending.

Our hearts are heavy with these transitions, but as we know all too well, life is nothing if not a series of lettings-go. Letting goes? I don’t know; we are always and forever being called to let something go. I’m pretty sure that it’s in our willingness to respond with gratitude and grace where we find some measure of peace, but none of us has enough grace to fill an entire day. Bring on the ocean with its powerful and healing tides, reminding us of just how much can change in the course of one day.

The Pawlet Community Church will continue to stand tall; the new family will plant gardens where we once caught fireflies, my kids will graduate from everything and maybe even one day make babies and start the cycle all over again. We are a blip, our lives here a nanosecond, so keep looking for the funny and love each other up a lot, OK?

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Yesterday it was these birds, perched on the roof all afternoon, seaside sentinals, waiting for the dropped potato chip, maybe. Soaking up the last of the summer sun, just like us.

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It’s another beautiful day here in Maine. I hope it is where you are, too.