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Archive for the ‘The outdoors’ Category

See header picture. I took it off of my balcony this morning. And so it begins.

Time to get out my cross country skis…

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I started running after my sister died. Well, running is a little ambitious to describe it. Let’s just say someone walking at a very brisk pace could lap me repeatedly. I always thought I hated running, but somehow–right now–it is the only thing that seems to make sense to me. When I’m running, I feel like I’m right where I am supposed to be, doing exactly the right thing. I don’t have mundane things over my head like ‘I should be unloading the dishwasher right now,’ or even meaningful things like ‘I should be sending thank you cards to people so they know I’ve appreciated their kindness during my sorrow.’ Both of those things are important to do, and both feel like insurmountable tasks sometimes. I may not be able to do them, but I CAN run.

I was trying to figure out what is it about running that feels right, and I wrote this in my journal on Tuesday after I came home from the gym:

Running and stretching open me up. I feel creative and alive and connected to myself. I like the feeling of being present–I’m all there when I’m running. It’s like meditation: focused but loose–and I feel released and peaceful afterward. The rock-huge boulder that holds my mind back from motivation is rolled away. I feel worshipful. Joyful. Open.

I’m intrigued by this joy I feel in spite of my sorrow. I don’t know how connected to running it is, but I am experiencing something I never understood before. That I can be mourning and grieving, but underneath know deep joy. Not happiness, necessarily. But a right-ness. Peace that passes all understanding, perhaps?

The sun and the beauty and leaves and the smell of wood stoves and the crisp fall weather–even the pinecones on the tree in my backyard–they are all trying to tell me something. Being in this place, connected to these people at this very time–all of it feels like God is saying: I’m with you. I love you. This grief is not forever. I have plans for you. Look around! See my hand. I am here.

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My little sister Cindy and I stood looking into Tate’s casket on Wednesday night and asked each other, ‘Is this it? I mean, have we actually accepted this? Are we still in denial? Shock?’ Because after the initial horrible-ness of seeing her laid out–actually dead–in the funeral home, we sort of got used to it. It’s just that I KNEW that my sister wasn’t there. It didn’t look like her. It didn’t feel like her. It was like a grim representation of her, like she had put on a freakish Tate costume for halloween.

Not that we didn’t greive. I cried so much over the past few days that my head JUST NOW has stopped hurting. Maybe our bodies can’t take it all in at once. The loss of it all. Sometimes I feel like someone who has lost their leg, but they still feel it itching. I kept looking around the funeral home for Tate to make some comment about something that I knew would make her laugh. All these people came through the line to see her, and for a minute, I forgot why they were there. Some of them I hadn’t seen for years, and I kept yelling out their names like an excited sports announcer. Then I would glance sideways and catch a glimse of Tate in the casket, laying there in her Steelers jersey and realize that maybe I was being too loud. They hadn’t been there for hours and hadn’t seen her in the hospital and the shock of seeing her there didn’t match my excitement of seeing them. It was all so conflicting and bizarre.

I took a walk in the woods today, and it started to rain. I was so comforted by the sound of it and by the dim green softness. I was thinking about heaven, and how it blows my mind that someone I know so imtimately is actually on the other side. I was asking her what it was like, and wondering if she could see me there, in the rain, crying.

I’m not sure how to navigate this grief.

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The cataclysmic event of moving across the country and settling into new routines, new church, new friends, new temperatures, new LIFE–leaves me with so much to say I don’t know where to start. So I’ll begin with a word:

GRATEFUL.

Grateful for so much. But first for the trees. I forgot about trees. I forgot what it’s like to live in and around them. On my back deck I can see and hear a Quaking Aspen–taller than the house, leaves flashing silver in the wind. Then there are the Evergreens. Tall and close–home to woodpeckers; surrounding me with beauty, tucking me away from the busyness of life. I feel like I’m on an extended retreat here, right in my own house.  I needed to be away from this part of the country for awhile to appreciate what I took for granted. I didn’t really notice before and now I can’t stop staring. I found an old, old tree on a nearby trail–big knots, mammoth trunk. I waved hello, and wondered if it had been there even before the college in 1883. I wanted to know what it could tell me.

Also, I was glad no one saw me wave at the tree.

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A few pictures of our journey so far:

(when we finally found the camera!)

Sadie in new living room

I love our new house. I call it The Treehouse. My favorite thing to do is sit out on the back deck. I am decompressing here. I can’t believe how peaceful, how rested, I feel. Of course it’s maddening to have all of my worldly possessions half in/half out of boxes, but we’re slowly getting it done.

We have been WARMLY welcomed here. It is a small community, and people have been dropping cookies off at our doorstep, inviting us to dinner, making us lunch when the movers came, and just popping in to say ‘welcome to the neighborhood.’

Also, I LOVE the weather. Today I had to get out my wool cardigan. We had all of the windows open, and it was only like 60 degrees. Dan and I keep going outside and rubbing our eyes and saying ‘are we dreaming?’ I had forgotten how much I like to be outside.

Sadie counted it up, and she has 8 friends to date. I’ve reconnected with some old friends, and have met several new ones. The church here is really the center of the community–I feel like we’ve gone back in time, and I am loving it. Sometimes I think we are living in Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon. Everyone knows everyone else, and news travels FAST. When we got here, the former owners of the house had a long haired cat. Although the house was SPOTLESS, I was still sneezing. We had to get the carpets professionally cleaned, and the next day a person I hadn’t seen in 11 years came over to our house and asked how my allergies were doing. That was the first thing she asked me. How did she know? ‘Get used to it’, I’m told.

I love it here. The fresh air has done wonders for my soul. I feel like God has given me this amazing gift of a place, and I am overwhelmed with the joy of it. I am so grateful.

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This morning I was feeling better than I have all week. I was like, maybe I’m not even sick anymore. So Dan and Sadie and I trooped off to a local State Park and frolicked in the sunshine. Dan and I were kicking a soccer ball around and I was running and then suddenly I couldn’t get my breath. I sounded like a wheeze machine. Then I was like, let’s take a nature hike! And I didn’t follow the hints that maybe I wasn’t ready to be climbing down a steep gorge and then going up the hundred steps back to top. I mean, I HAVE been sick for about 10 days. So off we went into the land where healthy people who haven’t wondered if they have had pneumonia lately can hike up and down the mountain as they please. But by the time we had gone down to the falls and back I was sweating and my whole body felt like I had on one of those heavy blankets they drape over you when you are getting your teeth x-rayed. I got to the car and I could barely keep my head up. Every part of me felt WEARY. I mean, my fingers felt tired.

Maybe I overdid it a teensy little bit. I talked to my dad later and actually said “I can’t talk anymore. I can barely hold up the phone.” Dan snorted at my melodrama from the kitchen. I yelled “I’m serious!” Then I took a 4 hour nap.

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Today I sat out on my back porch and put my face to the sun. I heard the birds chirp: robins, finches–even a woodpecker in the distance. I took off my shoes and sunk (sank?) my feet in our damp back yard–pushing down mole holes with my toes and smelling the fresh earth. I turned over a brick and found a red spider–sitting still, blending in with the background, and I watched roly-polys turn into protective balls in the mud.

The world is waking up.

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