This weekend flooded me with memories. Exactly one year ago, our daughter came to live with us and I started a new job as vicar of a small country church. Much about the weekend was exactly the same as the previous year: the first fallen leaves crunched beneath my family's feet as we walked the familiar trail in our neighborhood, the church was decorated with pumpkin, hay, and all things autumn for its "Homecoming" Sunday, I inadvertently chose the exact same dress for Sunday morning as I had last year.
It was surreal how much was so familiar. And yet so different.
Friends we just met last year who fell into our same "married without children camp" just welcomed a baby girl. I buried several stalwarts from my new parish. Our daughter is now legally, officially ours. I received my certification to teach group exercise. Our family has become a part of three different school communities. Family and friends have moved closer and farther away. Life goes on, in other words. As they say (who is "they" anyway?), the only constant in life is change.
With each passing year, I pay closer attention to the seasons. This may be partly because I live in Virginia, where there actually are four distinct seasons. This may also be partly because I work in the church, where we have a special liturgical calendar. But I think it has mostly to do with age and life experience. I appreciate the seasons because they are such yardsticks, ways to see where I have been and where I am going. They invite reflection. They remind us that we will continue to navigate transition, and yet familiar rhythms always underscore even the most profound changes. Leaves emerge from barren trees and turn from bright yellow to verdant green to rust and then fall to the ground, where they become part of the soil that fuels the process for future years. Easter is for lilies that make half of the population sneeze and ridiculous hats and pretty but impractical dresses, no matter if it is forty or eighty degrees outside. Fall is for busyness, winter is for holidays, spring is for summer anticipation, and summer is for boredom.
There is so much I do not know about where I will be exactly one year from this moment and there is so much I do know.