“All my life’s a circle, sunrise and sundown. / The moon rose through the nighttime / till the daybreak comes around. / All my life’s a circle, but I can’t tell you why. / The seasons spinning round again. The years keep rolling by.” ("All My Life's a Circle" by Harry Chapin)
It’s fitting that this rousing song should go round and round in my head this month, as our family recalls Dad’s passing away on April 27, 1990. Harry Chapin was one of Dad’s favorite songwriters, and listening to his music during our long, summer road trips up north to see Dad's side of the family, I always felt there was a special message to me from Dad in his lyrics.
At 27 years of age and having just endured one of the coldest, harshest winters in Wisconsin, I have come to realize yet again that all my life’s a circle. The coming of spring couldn't be more welcome and more miraculous. There was a point in February and March where I just didn't think spring was possible. I thought we’d be stuck in winter forever. But then surprise, surprise, spring returns!
Saturday a friend and I took a six-and-a-half-mile hike through the village where I live and out along a trail that runs beside a certain Fox River, underneath a canopy of trees. How wonderful to my ears to hear the rushing of water, running, spilling, gurgling over the rocks, foaming at the dam, rising high up on the banks of the creek-ways and river-ways everywhere in the village! Truly, this is the miracle of spring, this power to set free what once was solid ice, immoveable. Dad would love to be here, underneath the canopy of trees, where green shoots are springing out of the ground, and yellow daffodils, yellow tulips and purple wildflowers have just begun to soften the world with their color.
A rabbit hops into my view, a few feet in front of me on the path, and then a second later is gone, suddenly lost in the camouflage of woody undergrowth. It’s a phenomenon of nature that Annie Dillard in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek defines as “now you see me, now you don’t.”
“I found you a thousand times / I guess you’ve done the same. / But then we lose each other / It’s just like a children’s game / And as I find you here again / The thought runs through my mind / Our love is like a circle / Let’s go around one more time.” (Harry Chapin)
This song always reminds me how we weave in and out of different places and people's lives at different times. We wave goodbye to one opportunity to embrace a new one and then return to it one day. A recently re-discovered newspaper article I forgot I wrote four years ago reveals I was writing about the parish that I now attend, never dreaming I’d be in this city one day!
And this month, I find myself at familiar crossroads as I'm given the opportunity to move back to the city from whence I came and into a house that I had first hoped to live in a year and a half ago. I find myself, thus, caught "in the middle of a move.” While my place here goes up for rent, waiting for the right person to come along and find it, on the other side, a room awaits me and old friends eagerly anticipate for me to return and move in with them in another city. Like so many things in life, I am in the middle of a guessing game. I am ready to pick up and go at any moment, but when? Is this it, now?
I can't help thinking that maybe this will be heaven: to find ourselves come full circle, and to know for the first time the reason why.