Ever since squeezing my office into the corner of our family’s laundry room three years ago, I’ve dreamed of the day I would be able to move out. This week, that day finally arrived, but instead of being excited, I wasn’t sure I still wanted to move.
The potting shed beside our vegetable patch offered the perfect place to write – a tranquil space all my own (at least while my oldest two sons are away from home, since it also serves as a spare bedroom). Yet, lugging my desk, four shelf-loads of books and various stacks of writing notes and teaching materials down the stairs, out the front door and across our driveway seemed overwhelming. Plus, I’d grown accustomed to writing in my dank corner beside our whirring washing machine while my younger kids played downstairs. The noise and space and clutter had become familiar.
How often in life, I thought, do I do the same thing, clinging to unhealthy behavior, an old habit or some other hang-up because it is what I’ve grown used to rather than because it is in my best interest? Change is hard. Like many, I crave what is comfortable and familiar. Yet, to truly thrive I know I must embrace new opportunities, experiences and the changes that help me grow.
“For everything there is a season,” a wise man once said, “a time for every activity under heaven.”
This season contains more changes than I would like. Too many deaths of those I hold dear. Too many losses. Too many goodbyes. Yet, as Solomon sagely reminds us, that just as the natural end of life is death, so too at the end of grieving comes dancing and at the end of planting comes harvest (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). I wouldn’t want to plant forever without harvesting, just as I wouldn’t want to grieve forever without dancing. Therefore why would I want to sit in the corner of my laundry room forever when I could be sitting beside a window, gazing through the branches of an apple tree at the ornamental corn ripening in my garden?
So even though packing and moving is hard, I load the contents of my desk into rubber totes that my husband lugs down the drive and stacks in the corner of my new office. When he carries away my desk and shelves and my laundry room is empty, I am astonished at the dust that lingers behind, the grime I’d grown used to, the dinginess of my corner. Perhaps this too is how it is for those who are gone, staring back in wonder at the small confines of dusty lives left behind.
Meadow Rue Merrill, author of the award-winning memoir, Redeeming Ruth, writes for children and adults from a little house in the big woods of midcoast Maine. The Lantern Hill Light Parade, the fourth book in her Lantern Hill Farm children’s picture-book series, is available now.