Friday, November 18, 2016

Autumn Cathedral

I wrote the following blog post back in early October, when I was still processing through what it might mean to remain in the US to deal with my health issues. Unfortunately, I was too sick at the time I wrote it to actually post it on here. So here it is now :)
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“All people are like grass,
    and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
     but the word of the Lord endures forever.
1 Peter 1:24-25


Image courtesy of Wetcanvas
The sun dips lower until the oak and maple trunks spiderweb like lead came across a forest of stained glass. I sit beneath this everlasting cathedral, until my hands and face are covered in golds, oranges, greens, reds, and I try to hold the moment, like a piece of chocolate on my tongue.


Time passes quickly here in Minnesota. After five years in a country without definite seasons, I find spring, summer, and now autumn slipping past my skin like silk and I can barely catch my breath.

Hurry, hurry, hurry, the breeze whispers through the wind chimes. Winter is coming. This will soon be over. Hurry.

Didn’t I just touch down on this continent—it can’t be time to leave yet, is it?

Originally, I was supposed to head back to Papua New Guinea at beginning of November, but my bags remain unpacked and tickets unpurchased. As a result of my chronic Lyme disease and other co-infections, I will be remaining in the United States for some months until my team of medical professionals has diagnosed, treated, and is confident in my recovery.

And so, I wait. And I wonder, as I watch the breeze peel off the birch leaves, the summer-green dreams dying in a blaze of orange fire—does it hurt when they fall to the earth?

Undefined stretches out before me. After years of ferocious solo life and travel, I can no longer live independently, and I attempt, grateful, to slide back into the rhythm of living at my parents’ house. Fatigue dictates new, limited rules for driving. Old hobbies take too much energy. My job, languages, calling waits 8,000 miles across an ocean while I sit, with a tremor, in a country that I don’t quite recognize as mine. After five years, old friends have drifted and coursed new paths like a river delta. And I remember what it is to live in the United States: people tucked into their houses and scheduled out 3 weeks, rather than a 20m walk between hanging ropes of bananas to borrow a cup of sugar. The five stages of grief, of loss, ripple through me, and I take a deep breath through my nose of winter-coming death, of loam and wood rot and wet leaves.

Golden bits of aspen rain to the ground like confetti, as the glint of a fox’s tail disappears into the weeds. On the equator, time passes from green to green. But here, a vibrant glory before death, and the leaves flutter through my fingers, ready to be trampled underfoot, ripped from the tree’s hands.

Or…released?

image courtesy of Wetcanvas
There is the one oak tree behind our veranda who always tries to skip autumn, tries to hang onto his leaves, until they shrivel brown, shattering at the slightest touch. And when winter bears down and the hoar frost weights the sleeping trees, the waiting trees, they bend and sigh with the knowledge of a coming and better spring…but he

Cracks.

And so I kneel on this gilded cathedral mosaic pooling across the ground, gold fit for a King clutched tightly in my fists and

open my hands.