Friday, August 27, 2010

Carry On

I am back at school again. Every morning, I open up my backpack and pull out the books and binders I don’t need and shove in the ones I do need before setting off for class. But every day, there is a collection of papers and notes that stay in the backpack.

Some of them have been there now for over a year. Some of them have been there for just about two weeks. Last year, when I got back from the moot, I couldn’t bear to take everything out because to do so felt too final. I didn’t want to force an ending. And so for an entire school year, I carried around these extra things with me. There are notes on the nature of art and our role as artists, a copy of a monthly magazine from a church in Colorado, a painting of a butterfly, notes from friends, and a few other assorted items that to anyone else would seem random.

A few weeks ago, I went back to Colorado, and I carried these things with me again. When I returned, I had added some more papers to the little collection. I considered removing it all before this school year, but as I looked over the now wrinkled pages, I found it was better to leave them there. Better to carry a piece of the memories with me every day, a piece of the people and the words and the moments that have meant so much to me two years in a row.

This summer was an interesting summer. I spent many, many hours at work, in the world of ink and books and dusty pages. I also flew to Atlanta and saw friends and let the music of many of my favorite bands carry me. I went to Sixflags twice, and enjoyed the wonderful flood of adrenaline that comes with the feeling of flying. Most importantly, I went to Colorado for two weeks and spent time on mountains and under stars and with the most passionate and lively and loving people I have ever known.

Looking back on it, it seems like a wonderful summer, much like the summer of 2009 (in which I had an incredible two weeks traveling in southern California, followed by 10 days in Colorado). However, it did not always feel that way at the time. There were some of the loneliest and most difficult moments of my life, as I struggled with questions that I’d left unanswered... and faced new questions that had no answer. But that is not what I remember or what I carry with me into the school year. I choose to carry the hopeful things and the beautiful things, because they shine brighter.

Last summer while I was in California, I had some of the most incredible opportunities of my life. At the time, I could barely grasp or appreciate it, due to the season of my life. But ever since then, I am constantly reminded of those two weeks... of the ocean, of the waterfalls and mountains, of writing songs under the stars at the foot of a cliff. It is something I have partially lived in retrospect, because I chose to hold onto the memories and let them last.

It’s not hard to see where I’m going with this.

To some degree, the turbulent seasons in our lives have an effect of regret and pain that we can’t fully ever erase. And that is valid, and not something to be ignored, because when we ignore the start of scars, they grow. You can’t come out on the other side of something if you try to deny that you ever walked into it in the first place. However, I also believe that we have a choice as to what we carry with us.

We can carry away the bitter memories, the moments that hurt, the times people said unfair things, the times we lost. These are the things that are easier to hold on to (the things I usually hold on to, if I am honest). Or we can carry the moments where someone said something beautiful, the songs that made things different, the times of honesty, when truth broke through shadows-- even if it was only for a moment.

The things we carry with us change us from the inside out. If we carry the dark moments, they will bleed through even our most cleverly devised facades. If we carry the light moments, they also will change us as the light slides through the cracks and makes us shine. Those are the things that will shine in the shadows as we go on to face new moments of darkness and pain. Maybe even the process of learning how to hold onto the brighter things is a beautiful thing in itself...

And maybe that’s just a theory, or just wishful thinking (and this is a definitely a very simplistic overview of this idea). I don’t know. But I do know that I am carrying some very beautiful things away from the summer, and because of that I can smile, even in the places that are anything but beautiful to me. I also know that carrying around words and butterflies and notes from friends in my backpack makes it feel so much lighter.

I will carry the songs and the prayers and the starlight and the laughter of the summer as I move towards the winter. I will hold them close, let them change the person I am, even as I move into new moments with their victories and failures. And maybe that is really one of the important parts of growing-- not running away from everything that has gone before, but rather knowing what to carry with you and what to leave behind.

Asking you all to react and comment last time was beautiful. I loved reading the comments that you all left for me-- there are no words to express how excited it made me to see responses. So I’m going to get into the habit of leaving you all with questions, I believe (though you’re free to comment on the blog post as a whole, of course, or to talk about it through chat or messaging, as some of you already do).

What are you carrying away from this summer, and why?

God bless, friends. Keep shining.
- Elraen, the Wandering Star -


Liz said...

i'm carrying away change...and hope, but not like ever before. something cara explained to me about dying to self is that you lose who you are and become lost in God, He begins to define you because He must become greater and we must become less... not knowing who i am is the change i am carrying away from this summer. the me that i am right now is no one i recognize and the hope that comes with all of that is the hope of Jesus, of His peace, His protection, His providence... excellent blog post ♥

Mary said...

a passion and a goal (or question).

A passion that I find ignites whenever I talk about the people groups and tribes all over the world that have no one to stand up for them, no one to be their advocate and lighthouse.

And a goal, a goal to keep asking God to reveal His holiness and power--sides of who He is that I can't grasp so well.

MangyCat said...

Last summer flew by so quickly and I saw so many people I love growing and changing (CleanPlacers and my kids alike) that I am coming away with the reality that today is fleeting. I really must rejoice in each day, for today is only here for one turn of the earth and we will only be precisely as we are now for one day.

Sarah said...

I'm carrying away boldness. And confidence. Often I still feel like a child, because I live at home and am currently dependent on my parents. Being away at the Moot, I kind of rediscovered my adulthood, and I feel like I have a new measure of confidence in myself and my abilities and talents. I am appreciating my maturity in a whole different way now.