I know that most of the life I have known, on a practical level, is gone. Some of it eroded away by the “or sickness” and the “or for worse” of the marriage vow. Some of it shattered by the brutal death of the friend I had entrusted into the hands of the good God who I knew would not allow it to end as it did. Some of it by my volitionally stepping away from the ministry role that had become my identity.
There is a beautiful praise song that contains the words “when seasons change and stories end”. Seasons do change and stories do end despite my screaming that it can’t possibly be true. So, having acknowledged, at least cognitively, that all the above is true, I ask the question, “Now what?” and this question is what compels me to embark on a new journey.
I have been invited, spontaneously and with little preparation time to meet some friends at the 45th annual Fiddlers Convention in Lafayette, Indiana. This is about a 4 ½ hour drive that includes Chicago and I will be driving alone. The friend’s I am going to meet are precious to me because of past encounters but our lives rarely touch now. I have never heard of this Fiddlers Convention or any Fiddlers Convention, for that matter. All of this to say, I had many reasons easily available to me to decline this invitation but something in me wanted to accept and I did. It felt like an adventure. I knew I needed to risk adventures to craft a new season and write new stories.
The following “lessons” were gleaned as I drove south from Milwaukee to Indiana on I94 and then the Illinois Toll Road:
As I kept a close eye on my built-in GPS and watched for overhead signs I sensed “Pay attention to the highways in your heart”. I remembered the verse from Psalm 84:5 ESV “Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion” Other translations refer to setting your heart on pilgrimage and reading further tells about making the valley of weeping into a place of refreshing springs. I want to focus on the highways of my heart as I map out the new journey for this next season of my life.
Then I was challenged with the thought “Your rearview mirror is too big”. It is a challenge that doesn’t leave me much room to dispute. I feel more at home looking back at where I have been and longing for what I have lost than I do looking forward to the landscape that has yet to be designed. I can start by reducing my rearview mirror to a size that allows occasional glances and recognize that my forward-looking windshield is the place that now needs my attention.
A surprising next lesson came as I struggled to see both distant signs and my dashboard. I was wearing prescription sunglasses that were only designed for distance. To my amazement, I found it easier to see both near and far without the prescription lenses. Because of the blazing sun, I needed sunglasses so I pulled into an Oasis and bought a pair off the rack for $15. I smiled as I realized that the glasses that were needed for my old journey are not necessary for this one. No prescription needed now. Just enjoy the ride.
My sister had generously lent me her I Pass and registered my car so that I didn’t have to stop at tolls. It was a freeing experience and one that would easily preach to know that my tolls had been paid and I could simply drive through.
The route my GPS took me was right through Chicago rather than around on the bypass. I had not taken this route for a long time and I don’t know if I have even driven it. As I navigated through I was suddenly struck by the spectacular view of the Chicago skyline. It didn’t seem to be something that I could see in the distance and then watch as it drew closer. It seemed to just suddenly be there and I was thrilled with the striking spread of breathtaking architecture. As I let myself enjoy this view I sensed that God wanted to tell me that there are more spectacular experiences ahead of me than I now expect.
I am ready to receive them.
Grateful for the GPS and the I Pass, I wondered for a moment what my guidance would be for the highways of my heart when I heard God whisper, “I’ll be your GPS” and “Your tolls have been paid”.
All of these lessons as I take baby steps toward forging a new season in my life. I have yet to know their full impact but the weekend at the Fiddler’s Convention was wonderful, the company was nurturing for my soul and the spectator role I expected to have was replaced with my jumping at the opportunity to stand on stage and sing shape notes at the gospel concert.
Forging a new journey.
I would like to ask those of you who read this to help me know how I can write in such a way that we have a dialogue. Were these thoughts helpful to you, do they apply to your life, are they just personal ideas that have no value for anyone else, do they prompt questions? Please respond and help me become a better writer. Grateful, Roselyn