Sometimes a friend takes us out to Starbucks and looks at us with real comprehension, their eyes locked into ours and a look of love on their face, and we see ourselves as they see us: beautiful.
Sometimes it's late at night and you're curled in your scrubs (the ones you bought at the Salvation Army Store on sale because they are so comfortable) writing in your journal and trying to draw your own hand holding a pen, and it hits you that life, in its mess, in its chaos, in its... unpredictability, is just that: life.
We find ourselves in surprising moments much of the time. I am asking every day as my time in DC winds rapidly to a close, "Why am I here? How did I get here? Where am I going next?" I never know quite how to handle the surprise of these closing weeks. It seems just yesterday that I was finally, FINALLY feeling at home on the bus and amid the fruit stalls and the Asian pears of Eastern Market, able to know where to meet someone if they said 12th and T St, NW, able to walk from 16th and L to 14th and V to meet a friend for dinner at Busboys & Poets, able to breathe DC air and feel at home. It feels like yesterday I was planting myself firmly in the ground of city concrete and city smog and city sunrise.
Now, I am surprised in the moment when a countdown of days can feasibly begin. Now I am surprised in the moment of ticket confirmations, cardboard box purchases, gulping second to last week at internship realization. Now, I am surprised in the moment when the prospect of leaving my Starbucks prayer journaling, my ASL bus rides, my hot pink shoes on the DC sidewalks, creeps into my thoughts.
Going home is heartbreaking, not because I do not miss home, but because I put down roots here. I have rooted myself into the ground of this city, into its air and Metro stops and diners and markets and ministries. And I have rooted myself in people, their faces and laughs and smiles and tears, their joy and their confusion. There is nothing more wonderful than the prospect of seeing my people here feel loved, nothing more confusing than thinking about leaving them.
The only thing I can think of to do in these moments is stop. Smell the roses. It sounds like silly advice, but I am looking at the most beautiful bouquet of yellow-white roses in full bloom and smaller white tea roses... and they surprise me with their beauty and their nonchalance and their blooming. Even in the moments when we are overwhelmed by goodbyes, overwhelmed by the leaving, overwhelmed by our wonderful friends - if we smell the roses, if we breathe them in and stop for a few minutes and let their beauty, in its quiet, consistent way, wash over us - we will allow ourselves to reflect that beauty back.
I leave you all with this poem, one of my very favorites (I seem to have so many of them!):
The Sound of Trees (Robert Frost)
I wonder about the trees.
Why do we wish to bear
Forever the noise of these
More than another noise
So close to our dwelling place?
We suffer them by the day
Till we lose all measure of pace,
And fixity in our joys,
And acquire a listening air.
They are that that talks of going
But never gets away;
And that talks no less for knowing,
As it grows wiser and older,
That now it means to stay.
My feet tug at the floor
And my head sways to my shoulder
Sometimes when I watch trees sway,
From the window or the door.
I shall set forth for somewhere,
I shall make the reckless choice
Some day when they are in voice
And tossing so as to scare
The white clouds over them on.
I shall have less to say,
But I shall be gone.