Some questions come up every Spring.
They grow out of desire for renewal, from seeds planted deep within my soul. However, the changes I wish to cultivate are not usually ones to myself. These are too difficult. These require too much energy. These would require me to really know myself.
I stumble for answers when I come up against questions of identity. At best, I’ve learned that I can only get at knowing myself — that through spiritual direction and contemplation and even writing and other acts of doing, I am able to uncover layers of my buried identity. But in the end, I know that I can never fully know myself. I am mystery. I am mystery to myself and I am mystery to others.
It’s the same for all of us. We are all mystery. We are mystery to ourselves and a mystery to others. No matter how much time we devote toward self-knowledge, for now, we must be content to scratch the surface, to know only bits and pieces of our personal truth, as “we see through a glass, darkly.”
So outside of Lent, I let go of those harder questions of “who” and unite with Spring by concentrating on my doings. I involve myself in some new creative undertaking, like my sister’s home remodel. Or I attempt to develop some new skill or improve old ones, as with my online writing class at Shewrites.com.
But the desire for change responds not only to the questions of ‘who I am” or “what I’m doing.” Always, always the desire infects the question of “where I am.” Each Spring the question arises, with respect to whatever place I currently call ‘home,’ — Do I stay or do I go?
I love living in this old house in Mesta Park. I really do. But in the restless Springtime, I began thinking about new old houses to live in, I begin looking at home ads, the local MLS and even that wonderful website called Zillow.com.
I don’t know whether the desire to pull up roots and transplant myself is just a natural outgrowth of the renewal that comes with Spring — a sort of keeping up with the Jones’ — the Jones’ being the Daffodils and Creeping Phlox that decorate my Springtime garden like painted Easter eggs. Or whether my desire for a new dwelling springs from my deeper most being — to turn a sow’s ear of a house in desperate need of tending, into the proverbial silk purse — that somehow, has always been part of who I am.
But wherever the desire springs from, I know that it will lead my husband and I to drive around other historic neighborhoods in search of a better fit — as it leads me, for the same reason, to look more closely at other houses in our own neighborhood while on our evening walks. And it will lead us to attend ‘open houses’. And it will lead us to closely regard the homes featured on various historic home tours.
Of late, of Lent, I’m wondering whether the focus on “the wheres” and “the whats” of life are mere subterfuges for the deeper questions of identity, a sort of fleeing from the harder work of uncovering true self. Or whether the desire for change is, underneath, a longing for a home that is not here but out there in the great unknown that waits beyond death. These two questions are too difficult to answer. Who but God can say?
What I can say is that I’ve never found a home I’ve liked better, in the last four Springs of looking. And what I know is that this place I call home soothes my spirit the minute I walk in the backdoor, after being gone all day, as I was this past Saturday, when I went to work on my sister’s remodel.
And this too, I can tell: On Easter morning, with coffee cup in hand, I looked out my kitchen window onto my lovely Springtime garden. And I turned to my husband and said, “How could I ever think of leaving my garden? How could I ever think of leaving a place so perfect for our needs?
So in two easy questions, it looks like I’m home. For the time doing.