“Life cannot be understood flat on a page. It has to be lived; a person has to get out of his head, has to fall in love, has to memorize poems, has to jump off bridges into rivers, has to stand in an empty desert and whisper sonnets under his breath.
The idea and picture of home has never seemed more beautiful than it does today. Maybe it’s the coming of the holiday season. Maybe it’s just the amount of time I’ve been away from my family. Or maybe it’s the strange realization that life is more independent now and has to be, but I am really sympathizing with that little girl, tapping her sparkly red shoes together.
I was talking to my friend Amy Jo about this last night. Going through something similar herself, she emailed me this quote from Donald Miller’s book, that I actually haven’t read, Through Painted Deserts. She found it quoted on my friend Lauren Sutton’s blog, and I believe Amy Jo has posted it on her blog as well. It’s really that good. It’s actually kind of perfect. Worth reading in its entirety, slowly and maybe more than once. He writes:
I’ll tell you how the sun rose
A ribbon at a time…
It’s a living book, this life; it folds out in a million settings, cast with a billion beautiful characters, and it is almost over for you. It doesn’t matter how old you are; it is coming to a close quickly, and soon the credits will roll and all your friends will fold out of your funeral and drive back to their homes in the cold still silence. And they will make a fire and pour some wine and think about how you once were…and feel a kind of sickness at the idea you never again will be.
So soon you will be in that part of the book where you are holding the bulk of the pages in your left hand, and only a thin wisp in your right. You will know by the page count, not by the narrative, that the Author is wrapping things up. You begin to mourn its ending, and want to pace yourself slowly toward its closure, knowing the last lines will speak of something beautiful, of the end of something long and earned, and you hope the thing closes out like last breaths, like whispers about how much and who the characters have come to love, and how authentic the sentiments feel when they have earned a hundred pages of qualification.
And so my prayer is that your story will have involved some leaving and some coming home, some summer and some winter, some roses blooming out like children to play. My hope is your story will be about changing, and getting something beautiful born inside of you, about learning to love a woman or a man, about learning to love a child, about moving your self around water, around mountains, around friends, about learning to love others more than we love ourselves, about learning oneness as a way of understanding God. We get one story, you and I, and one story alone. God has established the elements, the setting, the climax and the resolution. It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn’t it?
It might be time for you to go. It might be time to change, to shine out.
I want to repeat one word for you:
Roll the word around on your tongue for a bit. It is a beautiful word, isn’t it? So strong and forceful the way you have always wanted to be. And you will not be alone. You have never been alone. Don’t worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed.”
So I’ve left…
and we’ll see what happens. I do know this: If it wasn’t for that last bit he writes about, that part about how we’ve never been alone and never will be, I couldn’t have done the initial leaving, much less stayed left for the time that I have.