My winter in Denver was lonely, cold, and life-changing.
Moving to a new city where you don’t know a lot of people and have few connections can be a true test of your character. For me it has also been a learning experience in so many ways. Being somewhere with little sense of community and struggling to fit in can exacerbate a feeling of loneliness or homesickness in such a way that you can’t ignore it.
All through the winter of 2011, I pushed myself to investigate what it was I was feeling and I found that I was struggling with homesickness for a home I’d never had. I didn’t want to go back to Albuquerque (though I dearly missed my friends) and I didn’t want to be in Colorado (though it is exceedingly lovely).
But what did I want?
Frequently as I would contemplate this thought, I would be given these verses:
“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.”
Every time I read this or quoted it aloud, I would then spend the day singing or humming the old spiritual “I Shall Not Be Moved”. I began to get a vision of myself as a strong tree with deep roots that could not be tossed about because of circumstances, whether good or bad. As I began to practice yoga daily, I found that Tree Pose was my favorite pose. As I would stand in this challenging balancing position, I would find myself thinking of my one foot, planted on the ground and imagine that I could feel the heat of the sun (which I associated with the love of God) as I “grew my branches”…a popular yoga expression for holding the one legged pose while lifting your hands up and over your head.
(Please Note: In my car, in the shower, and in my own mind I sound like the female version of this:)
Then on a particularly low day after asking for what seemed like the hundredth time “Lord, why am I in Denver?”
I heard God say, “Child, you carry your roots deep within and you know that. What you need are wings.”
This was confusing to me because I’d longed believed myself to be independent and free. Free to do what I wanted. Free to make my own mistakes. Free to go where I desired.
Oh…wait….I’d never really been free had I? I’d really always been serving someone else, living the life that seemed expected, or waiting for life to start. Being in Denver, alone and untethered was an appointment with The Divine to move into a new kind of freedom.
Shortly after this realization struck me this verse began to pop up everywhere in my studies and reading:
Look, the winter is past,
and the rains are over and gone.
The flowers are springing up,
the season of singing birds has come,
and the cooing of turtledoves fills the air.
–Song of Solomon 2: 11-12
As the Colorado winter began to fade, I started to feel truly, madly, deeply FREE.
Freedom to be myself in all circumstances.
Freedom to trust my own intuition.
Freedom to feel passionately about things and not be fearful when others were intimidated by my passion.
Freedom to speak my mind or to be still, knowing that either one was acceptable.
Freedom to move into a relationship with God that was less about tradition and more about the Spirit moving in and through me.
And now as the days grow warmer and I begin to pack my things for a new adventure in Washington, I feel rooted in who I am at my very core…much like a tree planted by the water. At the same time feeling free to soar like the birds after the winter is past and the time for singing has begun.
May you have both roots and wings…strength and freedom…and courage to step out in faith.