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.
So many roads to travel down, here. I noticed immediately your words about new creative ventures, because I’m basking in the intensely pleasurable experience of creation myself – I just made my first music video and put it on youtube.
I had a bit of a problem – I needed a video of a certain song for my new post, but there wasn’t one. So, I had to learn how to make one. It really was fun, and I “met” several very nice people along the way as I was gathering permissions to use their music and photographs.
More interesting is the “stay or go” question. There was a time in my life – about a quarter century – when I moved at least every three years, if not more often. Now, I’ve been in the same area for 20 year and have moved only once, from one side of the lake to the other. I keep thinking about Annie Dillard’s comment that we can either travel far or we can travel deep, and about the pleasure of knowing all seasons of “one good place”.
I’m beginning to understand old people who “just” sit on their porches and “just look”. To they young ones they seem bored, or stuck, or whatever. They’re not. 😉
And yet, I find myself “moving” just as much now, even though my physical location hasn’t changed.
Thanks for sharing the Annie Dillard thought — I like it very much.
I hadn’t realized how many years you’ve lived in Texas. I was there 20 years myself — though I never did consider it “home.” But boy, after I left the workforce, I really grew to appreciate the place and put down roots
Living on or near a lake holds appeal for me too. But it’s not somewhere I must live to be truly happy. No. But I can’t imagine living without family nearby again. Talk about pulling out my heart. And as I write these words, I know that going home to me, in my twenties and thirties, meant going to visit my parents — even though I had never called Austin, San Antonio, Kingsville, Corpus Christi or (then) Lake Jackson ‘home.’ Had my parents not landed in the last place, I wouldn’t have the home I have today. But I’ve talked (or hinted) at that in an earlier post.
Congratulations on making your first YourTube video.