To Autumn

Here are semesters one, two, three, four, five, and six; what follows is semester seven, complete with my favorite words and photos from the past five months.

I am always surprised when it comes around; all of a sudden, my world, like a spinning top losing momentum, begins to slow. It teeters back and forth on the edge called finals week, and then comes to a stop, resting. Resting. And having been holding on for awhile, adjusting to the wind in my hair, I let go and look around, surprised. “It’s over?” I wonder, stepping down and seeing how things have changed since the spinning began. That’s what I do in these end-of-semester posts: I look around and see how I’ve changed, how my world has changed, how the details that stack on top of one another to make our lives have shifted and spun and recreated themselves. And, as always, they have.

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OK, some things have stayed the same. But man, this semester felt different. I think part of it was the sheer amount of muchness that transpired; so much, in fact, that August feels like eons ago.

I think part of it was what I lost. There was so much to read and write–three literature classes + a seminar + a writing class–that sometimes I lost that feeling that is usually humming inside me, the one that lights when I pick up The Great Gatsby, the one that comes to life when I arrange all of the words just the right way. It became, at times, a rush to finish chapters, edit stories, read between the lines of poems. It became stressful, too much to possibly squeeze into the evening, the early morning, the smidgeon of between-classes break. It became consuming, this need to constantly get things done, and I’m sad to say that I lost that brightness at times. If I could have done things differently, I might have focused more on the bits of passages that fed those fires; but if I’d done things differently, I wouldn’t know what I know now, which is, “Feed your fires. And rest.” That’s not to say I didn’t adore all those words–oh, I did. I did.

“It was the intimacy, a sort of spiritual suppleness, when mind prints upon mind indelibly.” –Virginia Woolf, Jacob’s Room

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I think part of it was what I gained. The joy of the Lord was my strength; The joy of the Lord is my strength. How blessed I am to know how true that can be, to have seen that verse hold up under the weight of long days and tough conversations. Every day, God would wake me up with a reminder of His grace, and every day, I would walk one, two, three more steps with Him, listening to the still voice: “Walk this way. See this truth. Believe in this much grace. Taste that much love.” This made all the difference. This meant that even when my faith in my own self was uncertain, my peace was surpassing. My ground was steady. My spirit refreshed. And now, more than ever before in my whole life, I know who I am: I hear Him call me: Child. Daughter. Love.

Between the idea

And the reality

Between the motion

And the act

Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom
–T.S. Eliot, “The Hollow Men”

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It was more than all of that, though. It was this feeling that permeated the sticky air in August and blew through the chill of December wisps of wind. It was that same old sense of mingled contraries, the forward and backward, only louder. It was two different mindsets, oceans encased in glass that slammed up against one another, their waters rushing together until I could sort them no longer. It was, “Stay like this forever,” and “Give me a new adventure.” It was poems and pumpkin bread in a corner of the coffee shop, streams of sunshine making the pages glow. It was joy, fear, and love. It was infectious possibility and it was, occasionally, tears on my cheeks. It was beauty and rain, beauty in rain. It was truth; it was dancing; it was laughter. It was this and that and about 3500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And at the end of the day, it was so much that it overflowed. I simply had to get out the way and allow myself to be submerged within; I had to stop treading and learn to float. I was washed by the water, and, for that–for everything–I am grateful.

“I was within and without. Simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.” –F. Scott Fitzgerald

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I’m left on the filled end of things, in the soft quiet that reverberates after all that spinning and swimming. It’s a chilly wind, the same that will blow in 2013. It’s a deep breath, filling me up. It’s more and more understanding of who I am, how I’ve been loved; I hope I get that in every semester, every year of my life.

Here’s to one more semester. I’m ready. IMG_3649

“I know nothing, except what everyone knows–if there when Grace dances, I should dance.”

–W.H. Auden

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