My parents moved from my childhood home this week and I can’t help but think about how it now sits empty of our physical belongings yet remains full of the memories we stored in all its various nooks and crannies. The bannister I slid down as a seven-year-old. The wall I knocked on in middle school to hear back from my sister on the other side. The tree in the backyard that I climbed as a kid, ate popsicles under during high school, and sat beneath during the rehearsal dinner for our wedding. I went home last week to celebrate my sister’s graduation from college and to say my goodbyes to the house that holds my childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood in its foundation.
A task which, if anyone knows me, could have paralyzed me with nostalgia and turned me into a sobbing mess.
I tried, though, to find the middle ground between sadness and reality. I know it’s necessary to feel the sadness of change, but I also recognize the importance of not getting hung up on the material. It’s just a house, after all. A temporary fixture in the eternal scheme.
I was reminded this week that I’m just a traveler through this life, and as I move heavenward, I know I can get distracted trying to hold on to the things as they exist around me. My childhood house. Norah’s wide cheesy smile. The way Lily physically narrates a story. I cling tightly to these moments and these things as I live them in hopes that they will last.And yet, my empty childhood house reminds me that I was meant for change. That as much as I want to hold on to the things I love, I must grasp them with loose fingertips. I must enjoy them while I have them, but also let them slip away eventually, so they can grow and bloom into something new and beautiful and more wonderful than I could imagine.
I can’t stay the same. And that’s a good thing.
I always seem to be drawn back to Ecclesiastes 3 during seasons of great change. In addition to reminding me that there is a time for everything, it re-centers me on the choice I have in those moments of change: wallow in the loss or embrace the chance to have joy and do good.
This time, I was drawn to verse 14: “I perceived that whatever God does endures forever.”
I certainly am a traveler through this life. My landscapes keep shifting. I keep having to let go of places and people and stages that I love, yet I am reminded that I don’t walk forward empty handed. As I let the physical things slip through, I’m filled with the lasting: family and friends and relationships and memories which will go with me wherever I am because whatever God does endures forever.And there is hope in that.
Of course I should also probably tell you that I made my mom save me a square of blue carpet from the living room and that I kept a sliver from the tree that used to stand in the front yard when they cut it down last summer. I know they won’t last, but they’re relics of the lasting memories I will take with me.
(They are also keeping my nostalgia at bay for the time being. Really, you should be proud of me for resisting the urge to frame all the glow-in-the-dark stars I plastered on my ceiling in high school. I certainly thought about it.)