It’s taken a while for the seasons to change here in the Inland Northwest. Rainy weeks and warm temperatures have kept the grass greener and flowers blooming longer than usual in our neck of the woods.
Yet, we know what’s coming even if we don’t feel it. Leaves have fallen. Baseball season is over. Clocks have been turned back.
Change is constant, yet it’s often hard to process. That’s why I’m so thankful for signs in creation that remind me there is a bigger picture, a consistent rhythm and order to this world. One of those signs is the deer who rests in our backyard.
Our family first noticed “Mama Deer” when we moved in our place six summers ago. There was a group, but this one doe was set apart from the rest by an injury. Her fur was bloodied and she walked with a limp; yet, she always had two young that she nursed and cared for.
Our family had a blast watching the mama with her babies that first summer and fall. Sometimes the kids and I would hold our breath as she crossed the busy street in front of our house to go for a drink from the lake. We took photos and prayed she would survive the winter despite her obvious pain.
We felt relieved when she reappeared from the woods the following spring with new babies. Her body had healed, although you could still identify her by the scar on her side and the continual limp she walked with. We felt blessed that she choose our yard as a safe place to nurture her family. And every spring she gracefully limps into our backyard with her new young in tow, grazing from our bushes and taking naps under the tree’s shade. She has been a beautiful reminder of peace and perseverance in the midst of struggle.
This past summer, the doe’s physical limp resonated with how I was feeling emotionally. For a variety of reasons, the rhythms and schedules I were accustomed to had been interrupted. Relationships had been stretched, redefined. Feeling a bit lost, I gained a bit of comfort from just watching that doe. And despite the pain from her injury, I observed Mama Deer consistently doing three things: 1) Taking care of her young; 2) Nourishing herself by trips to the lake; and 3) Resting in the shade.
I took a cue from her lead, and some healthier habits began to take root. I entered into more heartfelt conversations with my family. Tending my soul became a bigger priority with piles of books, ample journaling and long days outside in the sun. I took time to rest, going to bed without setting alarms and not pushing at such a frantic pace.
My heart has always been most receptive to the whispers of God through words and nature, and I was fortunate to come across Christie Purifoy’s book “Roots & Sky” during my summer soul searching. There was so much beautiful imagery and poetic inspiration to consider as Christie wrote about her family’s move to a beautiful farmhouse and what she learned through each of her first seasons there.
She wrote that many of the good gifts in her life have been rooted in emptiness. Instead of fighting against the loneliness or filling every empty space in the schedule, she said that sometimes you just need to sit in silence and see what happens. She wrote, “When I stop trying to fill my empty places, I leave room for glory.”
And the surprising result of this solitary action is often a renewed creativity spirit. Art can take root when we’re emptied of stuff we once thought was important. And creativity often comes when we are broken, allowing inspiration and renewal into our hearts and minds. “Art is the material form of hope,” Christie wrote.
I found the emptiness I experienced last summer to be a healing place, an opportunity for growth. My perspective on change began to shift. Even though it has been painful, changes in my life afforded me the opportunity and courage to start this blog, something I had dreamed of doing for years. To be quietly brave in being who I was created to be. To own my story. To surrender the outcomes and not be as fearful of what may come.
I’m learning to be patient and sit with the emptiness for a while when it comes; it’s not as scary and uncomfortable as it used to be. I’ve become more attune to myself. I’ve found myself extending more grace to myself and, in turn, to others.
Whether or not I’m prepared, the seasons are changing. I’ve reconciled that I won’t always feel the best when change comes my way. But I’ve committed myself to sit in the emptiness, to allow hope to percolate. To limp along in grace and love those around me well.