Truth be told, I’ve been struggling with a little bit of writer’s block. Now, that’s not to say I haven’t written. I’ve written papers. Oh, have I written papers: response papers, literary analyses, essays, articles. I’ve told other people’s stories, but when I sat down to write my own, I ran into the figurative wall I’ve heard other people talk about but never seen for myself. So I read. That’s what I’ve heard the secret is, so I’ve read, read, read, and all I got was enough inspiration to pump out a paper about “Kubla Khan.”
“Hm,” I thought, my puzzler all puzzled. “Maybe this is what writer’s block feels like.” Well, I’ll tell you what. I don’t like it one bit.
After all, a lot has happened, a lot that I could sit down and mold into words. There’s been a lot of life lived since I last spoke to you, but a lot of it had the same feel to it: The firm breeze that rearranges, that blows away. A knot in my throat, a hot rush of panic. The gentle pleading of, “Stay, stay, stay.” It felt like goodbye. Oh, I know that’s a loaded word; I know we equate that with sadness and heart-trembling and “No, wait, come back.” And me, well, I figured this semester would be able to put goodbye on the back burner, to be thought about and considered and faced months from now when the sun was warm again and goodbye could not be ignored. A master of procrastination, I was sure I’d be able to put off the goodbye until it reached out and shook me. But these last couple of weeks have been urging me toward something different; I’ve felt God gently nudging me toward the goodbye now, and I was appalled. “But Lord,” I said, confused, and quite frankly a little upset. “It’s not time yet.” I had to listen in the still to understand; moreover, I had to notice the trees. The leaves, they burned brightly, masses of revealed color marking beauty against the sky.
The leaves, they burned, and then they faded; they faded, and now they drop. I don’t cry about the leaves, love them as I do. I understand it’s all in season, that the leaves will come again. I was wrong, see. Goodbye comes now, as we wrap up the next-to-last semester, because I have to get it squared away. Oh, I know–I’m an emotional sentimentalist anyway, and I’ll be squaring things away for the rest of my life. It’s how I do: feel, evaluate, rearrange. Take in my life, and look around, and reach out and touch it, and then write it all down. I know that May will be for goodbye, too. I know that I’ll be hello-ing and goodbye-ing all the moments of my life, sashaying between those mingled contraries. But the Lord reached down and stroked my hair and whispered in my ear: Goodbye is now. And still, I had to ask why. Why not just enjoy the time I have? Why get wrapped up in goodbye?
At first, I thought maybe I was just getting wrapped up in the falling leaves and changing colors, feeling the effects of the slipping silver of an autumn sky. But then I saw some flowers. They were planted flowers, flowers there by man. These flowers were out of season, and suddenly, I understood. There is a time for flowers, and there is a time for leaves. There’s a time for blooming, and a time for falling. There’s a season for everything. And we know the falling–the goodbye–comes before the spring. We know the leaves fertilize the earth from which the flowers quite literally spring. We know that before freshness–before, say, we fly–we must gather what memories from the nest. I’m nesting.
a wind has blown the rain away and blown the sky away and all the leaves away, and the trees stand. I think i too have known autumn too long
I walk around this place, and I see a season’s worth of scenes. I see everyone everywhere; those who have come and gone, and those who have remained. I see us in every edge and curve, our us-ness spreading across the grass and filling up the trees, changing the very place that changed us. I see the leaves falling, the sky changing, and I breathe it in. I breathe it out: Goodbye.
I think it was brought on by recent happenings that have very much pushed me into confronting goodbyes I’d put off: the last home football game, a coworker transferring offices, my favorite leader’s move to Birmingham. A walk across the Quad, where the leaves danced across my boots, promising flowers soon. And I have come upon a truth: Goodbye isn’t the heartbreak it’s made out to be. Goodbye is a move, and moving is unnerving, sure; but goodbye is not just the acknowledgement of possibility, but straight-up faith in it. Saying goodbye invites anticipation. That’s not to say that what’s coming will be better, because this has been perfect. It’s simply looking to a new season; it’s waiting on the flowers. I must confess to you that I’ve crumbled up my own agendas for my life and set them on fire; I’ve asked the Lord to craft the paths down which he wants me to stumble and run. That is to say, I don’t have a plan, but I’m saying goodbye all the same.
Like I said, I’ll goodbye in the spring. I’ll goodbye in the summer. I’ll goodbye my way into new things time and time again. But there’s something special about a fall goodbye, falling right with those tiny, bright canvases that litter our paths. And in my case, they move the walls of writer’s block, too.
a wind has blown the rain away and the leaves and the sky and the trees stand: the trees stand. The trees, suddenly wait against the moon’s face. [cummings]