The first time I experienced Green Lake in Seattle was on a sunny, 80-degree Saturday in spring when I went picnicking at this popular lake, hemmed round by an urban trail. I remember the trail path well because it was here, strolling with my boyfriend in the shady water’s edge, that we joined the throngs of humanity circling around the lake. And it was here that we first held hands–feeling the strangeness and warmth of growing companionship and something beyond ourselves drawing us together in a new way.
“Do you feel like we’re one with humanity now?” I whispered, as we melded into the walkers and joggers, the bicyclists, the dogs on leash, youth on roller blades and scooters, and babies in strollers. We seemed united with the rest by the simple fact we were all walking the same road around this lake.
There were rules to obey to keep traffic flowing smoothly on this "two-lane highway" – walkers on the outside of the left lane and runners on the inside traveling clockwise while humans on wheels were going counter clockwise in the right lane. There was, and had to be, some sense of order, some rules, to make it a pleasant (and collision-free) experience for everyone.
Now five months later, in the damp days of fall, I find myself moved into a house right across from this same lake, staring out the window watching the people pass by.
One evening, under lengthening shadows, I joined them. Little scenes popped up before me. Hammocks hung between two trees, a family out on a blanket picnicking, a man on a bench playing an accordion, a dog chasing a squirrel up a tree, people going fast and people going slow, young people chatting and laughing, and an old man in a flannel shirt and plaid fedora on his head paused at the edge of the water, just listening, or waiting. He looked like the subject of a painting. I glanced back over my shoulder to watch the old man in the hat, just standing there as the world was rushing by around him.
At times I am like him, and I feel so small and so fragile, even antique, amidst the craziness of it all, longing to belong but feeling apart, yearning for what lays beyond the hard pebbles under my feet, yearning to see the leaf turn and shine gold. What makes it shine? Where does the leaf blow when it gets caught up in the wind and transported gently to…where? Perhaps the old man was waiting to get swept up like the leaves too, and like me, rest awhile while being carried on the wings of Providence. We are so fragile, rising and falling like the leaves, buds in spring and fading into grey, our hues shining lustrously one day and greying the next, only to return with vigor in new shades and shapes and sizes and show up in new places, times and seasons.
As this new chapter of my life unfolds in the bustling heart and soul of the city, I am thrilled at experiences yet to be lived out with eyes of wonder and an open heart. I am reminded that to be a writer requires practicing openness and receptivity at all times, but also of the Scripture warning, “Do not let your hand be open to receive, but clenched when it is time to give.” (Sirach 4:31) Yes, all these things require something of us.
“Greater things have yet to come, and greater things are still to be done in this city...” these lyrics by Chris Tomlin blared out of the car radio and caught me by surprise on my drive to my new home.
And so I write, for I’ve missed writing. I’ve missed the empty blank page lying open and exposed and ready and waiting to be filled with ink of my pen or the shape of the typed letter. I miss the creative flow and the rigorous act of writing that leaves you panting but exhilarated and feeling like you have achieved something beautiful or inspiring or at least just truthful. Inside my heart is a thousand flutters, a thousand birds that need to take flight, to let me rise with them from the earth to glory, to life in my soul, in my mind, radiating from my limbs, drawing others by its warm and gentle glow, being haven of growth for new things, and healing to all who come in contact with me, all who touch me, all things I touch…Body of Christ, “Amen.”
So I rake the scattered remnants of words, gathering them up into piles and heaps. Won’t you take my hand and revel too in this new season and all it brings? Go ahead, jump in!