Over the past few weeks, I have frequently found myself walking the short distance from our little home on Seven Hills Road on the north end of the Old Mission Peninsula to watch the progress of the enormous task of preparing St. Joseph’s Church for its unprecedented move to its new permanent home.
My curiosity was guided by a deep sense that this would be a historic moment for our community, and I was not expecting the time I spent watching this arduous task to become a quiet but profound metaphor for my own life.
John Schneider, my husband and a remarkable grief therapist, would have reminded me that curiosity is the forward scout for both healing and hope.
As a backdrop to this story, a few years ago, John and I decided to “downsize” after twenty-plus years in our Old Mission home with acreage enough to create a large labyrinth and paths for our grandchildren to walk and run in the meadow. We collected wonderful memories as well as “stuff” while living there and we found ourselves very disorganized when the move happened sooner than we’d expected. Subsequently, we began to overfill our new little home’s basement with boxes of memories and memorabilia.
The foundations of all our lives are filled with memories both good and bad, and sooner or later every one of us must decide what to keep and what to let go of in order to move toward new horizons of hope.
Captivated by the care with which the workers prepared the church’s above-ground structure for the journey to come, I watched as they proceeded to slowly and diligently lift the structure, using support and heavy beams, clearing away all that was necessary for the move to happen, all the while protecting what was fragile and taking as much time as they needed to ensure a safe passage.
Change is like that, is it not? The decision to take action first begins by caring for safe passages in our own upper levels—our heads and hearts. From there, we need both support and courage to clear the depths of our life stories before we are able to move forward.
This is an act of courage, this lifting ourselves up to begin sorting through what lies underneath. This remembering allows us to drink from a spiritual well that renews our vision and reminds us of what is yet possible, despite all odds. Such an act is always personal and always about community if we are to do more than merely survive the future that lies ahead.
I wasn’t alone in my observations of St. Joe’s historic move. It was a privilege to witness the community at large waiting and watching together, all intent upon the church’s sometimes precarious stops and starts as the driver expertly maneuvered the huge truck. He carefully missed a huge stone at the first turn of his wheels, then waited patiently for the other crew members to temporarily take down the M37 road sign until that first turn was completed.
This church, these people, this community knew where it needed to go, and hope was sitting right next to the driver.
Postscript –September 20, 2013
I have driven by the vacant area many times since witnessing the courageous moving day event of the church. Now, I realize, there is more that needs to be acknowledged to truly finish this story.
First, within a few weeks ground crews had smoothed and seeded the strangely vacant area where the church had been. Then the rains came -and kept coming! The barren seeded ground did not manage well on it’s own as rivers of erosion quickly formed in a steady run off of sand,seed and dirt along the highway. This wounded land was not healing despite the best planned intentions. The intervention happened quickly to include low tarp barriers placed along the road to hold the land until it could hold itself. Timing and timeliness were essential for corrective action. This reminds me of one of my osteopathic major premises–“Do not mistake motion for action.”
In large measure any “new ground” of ours also still needs tending that requires not just going through the motions but dedicated action over time. Who has tended us over time through the changes of our inner and outer landscapes once we had moved? Can you recall someone who patiently re-seeded your hope when nothing seemed to want to grow? These are the individuals who bless us with lessons in both grace and gratitude that we will never forget.
To reply to Sharon with your thoughts on her story, email firstname.lastname@example.org