Sunday, October 12, 2014
I’m not one of those “everything pumpkin is a special blessing from God” people. And I wouldn’t say autumn is my favorite time of year for many reasons, but after all the complaining is set aside, I do rather like autumn.
I like the brightness of the skies lit by a harvest moon. I like the sunshine playing with yellow leaves hanging like golden drops of promise flying from summer’s hold. Even the chilly rains of October are easier to endure when the walk is carpeted with orange.
The color of it all paints the world cheerfully. I like that.
Inside, though, autumn is a sad time for me.
My Grandma’s birthday was in autumn and I am not done missing her yet. 30 years isn’t long enough for me to stop talking about her. “My Grandma made the best banana bread.” “If my Grandma were here she would say she loves that!”
It was autumn when she became sick for the first time. Autumn when I walked to the hospital to see her after school. Autumn when I realized I would lose her eventually. Autumn signifies the end of my childhood.
And so I don’t like autumn.
I know God understands this as He often places extra blessings in autumn for me so I can think on good things. New school years start in autumn and I love that. The leaves, as I said before, decorate the world in paintbrush fashion and I enjoy that. After summer’s thick, musty air I breathe better in autumn. And breathing, of course, is a good thing.
And it was autumn when He spoke to me first about going to Russia.
I will spare you the details, but suffice to say it was on an autumn drive that I was discussing my future with God (some might say praying), when I felt absolutely certain that I was about to get direction. I waited in anticipation. Would my writing be picked up by a Christian publishing company and millions would be saved? Would I somehow skip college and be a teacher who would influence poor, urban children causing them to realize their wildest dreams? Maybe I would be a missionary to some romantic place like an island? Oh the possibilities were endless!
I can see a much younger version of myself sitting in the Sunday School classroom. I hear my friend’s voice repeating words that God and I had spoken of the day before. I knew it wasn’t coincidence. The anticipated direction was close at hand….. “Maybe God wants you to go to Russia. Why not?”
My very spiritual, Christ-like, example-to-others reaction was to look out the window, into the sky and say, “Russia? You’ve got to be kidding, right?”
Now here I am 20 some years later enjoying my coffee and looking into my Moscow neighborhood. Although I’ve not quite been here a year, this feels like home.
Many autumns were lived between that conversation with God and today. I find myself measuring my young woman’s expectations against my current reality. The delay between the call and the answer is entwined in its own story of many chapters. I often questioned. I frequently doubted. Toward the end of the delay I, Peter-like, denied the call when someone reminded me. “Oh, no, I’m sure that won’t ever happen now. That was for a different time in my life. Not now.”
But you know God is never late. To Him there was no delay, no hesitation, no change of mind. It was all right on schedule. Looking back I can see Him training me, changing me, leading me, preparing me for this very autumn. I wouldn’t have chosen the path which brought me here, but I’m glad for the knowledge it gave me. There were some chapters God saw me through that I know were not His preference. The choices and actions of others may have dragged out the plan, but the Planner didn’t change His plan for me.
I am so glad that when I was presented with the question again, I had the right answer. “Yes, I would be interested in teaching in Moscow.”
It’s not without personal cost to me. I have left the young woman full of energy behind along the way. I am a grandmother now with enough minor health problems to annoy me. Moscow exaggerates my weaknesses. My children are grown now, which is good. It would have been very difficult to raise children here. But now I want to help raise my grandchildren which is impossible from this side planet. We freeze joy in quick snapshots in an attempt to share life, but my arms are empty. They live their daily joys and sadness without me and I miss every moment.
It’s not without cost, it’s true. But it’s also not without extreme blessings. Time for teaching and time for writing has opened new doors of ministry for me. I am confident that the scriptures taught beside addition will make lasting impressions upon my students’ lives. The older me appreciates this much more than my younger version would have.
Yesterday I walked along an autumn lane with three of my younger colleagues. We were given tickets to a ballet at The Bolshoi. I love ballet! The grace, the beauty, the strength, the romance, the story of it all! All of my writer senses come alive in its presence.
Grandma made sure I took ballet lessons as a child. It’s an old friend full of lovely memories for me. I feel the music and the little girl inside wants to twirl, leap, stretch! For my colleagues, however, experiencing a ballet was something new.
I watched their reactions with great interest reminded of my younger self. I was full of words to describe the day, they were speechless. I re-read previous chapters in my heart’s memories of other ballets. They were making new notes on fresh pages. It was nice to share it with them, to see it through fresh eyes again.
Strolling with them I saw something that reminded me of my Grandma, but the melancholy was held in check by the blessing. I find I can enjoy this autumn. This is the day the Lord has made. I can rejoice and be glad in it.