When I hear music, I fear no danger. I am invulnerable. I see no foe. I am related to the earliest times, and to the latest. — Henry David Thoreau
Life in transition is a strange creature. I am exploring new territory while simultaneously revisiting old haunts. I am a different person than I last was when I crossed the threshold of many doors. I see the old places with new eyes, and feel like some of them are a thousand years ago and some just a moment, a breath away.
I sat across the table from the man who baptized me when I was 6 years old, after praying with me to receive Jesus. I hadn’t seen him for nearly 20 years. Flashes of childhood and old scenes and memories came from the deep recesses of my head. He and his wife told me that before I knew them, they lived in San Jose, Costa Rica as missionaries, and attended the same language school that I’ll do a brief stint in, so there is a delightful tying of the old with the new.
A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of photographing family that I have known now for 16 years. I met them when they were newlyweds, and I was a puny teenager in the youth group, running around the church courtyard barefoot with Jenny. Now, her sons look just like her brothers did when they were younger, and seeing their faces brought me back to all my years of high school and friendship with them. Feet on dashboards, listening to Relient K, driving around the Desert, mostly staying out of trouble. Sights and thoughts and feelings long left to rest came rushing to the surface, and because they had been given so much time to settle, were incredibly delightful to relish for a few moments. I drove back to my mom’s with a smile, because all the good things have stayed in my memory and the difficult parts have passed away.
Driving through Colorado and being in Vail is always a strange sensation, because my memory fights for seniority. Do I dwell on the childhood moments, or the ones more recently experienced, through my 20’s? At Nottingham Park for Independence Day, I was taken back to being 10 years old again, and laying on the grass all bundled up in the blankets Mom made us schlep with us (what seemed MILES at the time), awaiting the excitement of the fireworks show. Fried chicken and watermelon dominate in those memories, and being with Michelle before life got all complicated and separation became our norm.
Transition opens up doors for revisiting the past–sometimes way deep into the past–while also walking forward into the unknown. During the train trip I’m taking, I will see one of my oldest friends, who really taught me how to love Jesus when I was in high school. I will also see a friend I got to walk with as she prepared for married life, and then we haven’t lived near each other for several years. And another friend who got married and I’ve never actually met his wife, but oh, the joy of simultaneously remembering and celebrating the new things with them. Yet, friendship carries on and moves forward. It rejoices in the foundations and honors our history, but also walks forward into the current and future seasons together. My old high school friend is a mother of 3 now with a husband and home and business, and I just love seeing the shape her life takes. We can talk about the here and now, and make new memories together instead of depending on the old ones to carry us through for another 20 years.
Transition is both exciting and heart wrenching.
To cope, to embrace, to celebrate, and to work out my conflicting grief and anticipation, I simply turn the music up. I revisit the songs that were a comfort in childhood and high school. The ones that spoke to me in my early 20’s and the pain. I’ll even revisit the opera I used to sing when I studied classical music, and the pieces we learned about in music history and musical theater classes. I’ll play the anthems of my life, past and present. The country music that I have been shamed for most of my life will even make its appearance, but none of the new stuff–it will be the George Strait and Patsy Cline and the songs that are as cozy as an old back porch. The songs of celebration and praise, that make me roll down my windows and sing at the top of my lungs, and when the moment is passed, so have all the welling up emotions that are all over the map…these are the songs of this season. It is so crazy how a song can bring back an entire scene, all of it’s scents and tastes and sounds, in an instant. And then I’ll learn the brand new ones, to usher in the new season, and make me feel brave and remind me that life keeps marching forward regardless of how I feel about it.
I love this moment, of living in between worlds. I don’t belong in any particular place, except where I am RIGHT NOW. I am relishing the mingling of old with new, of revisiting with future vision. In the in between, in the flashbacks, the sweet pictures, the old places, I can smile that it is far away and a good thing in my archives. In the now, I can celebrate the new seasons so many of my friends are stepping into, with marriages and babies and moves and jobs. When considering how things have worked out in our lives, one friend said “Well, I guess the Lord knows what He’s up to”. Yes, He does.
I am sharing two clips, both taken on my cell phone earlier this week. They are of my dear friend Beek, with his father-in-law, practicing some music for a wedding. I was staying at the Beek’s house, eating my breakfast and slowly drinking my coffee while they practiced and became totally immersed in their world. These songs are some of my old anthems, ones that bring me to a place of rest and peace and help me think when there is so much going on. These two songs bring me back to the quote from Thoreau at the beginning, and give me some quiet space to simply sit and be filled with joy while also making me fear no danger. I also love at one point how he gets all hunched over the piano like the kid in Peanuts…was that Linus?