Friday, November 7, 2008

The days are shorter now...

When I was in junior high and high school youth group, we'd go on annual summer canoeing trips. These are still some of my fondest memories from my pre-teen and teenage years. I loved sitting in the front of the canoe, paddling away, the first to see the bends or choppy water coming up along the river.

Some of the most exciting moments in these 6 hour paddles would be when you were heading towards some sort of change in that Russian River. If your paddling skills were average to quite average, like mine, you'd look towards these changes with a bit of trepidation mingled with mostly anticipation. A bend in the course brought new scenery, but maybe a sharper than expected turn and a collision with overhanging tree branches. Rapids brought laughter and refined your skill with each one, but sometimes you flipped over. When the river split in two, you hoped you ended up floating down the way that your friends had already gone or would follow, or that had a surprise rope swing hanging down to pause at and make use of. Then there were the currents that could sweep you away, with little to be done but try to paddle to keep your course somewhat straight. Those moments of change made the trip. Just sitting around in the water is fun, but the transitions made the whole thing glorious.

My metaphor is obvious... such is life. Filled with regular, expected transitions, like the seasons; and new and/or surprising path-altering transitions, like going off to school, having a baby, or someone turning from a friend to a boyfriend to a husband. With transition happening all around, its been on my mind. It gets darker earlier now ... I don't like that change usually, but I'm adjusting, and every year my lamenting-the-sun period is shorter.

And then there's the change that Tuesday brought... the end of anticipating, debating, should we put our paddles in to the right or the left, what's around the bend... we transitioned. The direction has been picked, the churning reached it's climax.

To my own intuition and observation, this change will be, more than anything, good. Memorable. On Wednesday I had lunch at my new favorite cafe downtown, and looked at the president-elect's beautiful family on the front page of the newspaper, and felt settled and hopeful. That night at a soccer game, the national anthem was sung, and there was a giddy reverence in the crowd. I was looking through a book of quotes at an open house, and saw one by a Barack Obama, who was titled as being a Chicago Democratic Politician (book published in 2005). On nearby pages, past presidents were quoted many times. I had the feeling of our history literally being written out before my eyes, taking a different direction, as I mentally wrote in under his name instead "44th President of the United States." Each time I see him now, the transition forms more fully in mind towards him... from what he was and what people hoped him to be, to what he is now and what will be entrusted to him.

I'm grateful that I get to canoe along this particular stretch of the river of history, to come of age into the 21st century, to have witnessed so much and get to say that I journeyed over the rapids and bends and capsizings of this time at an age where I will be able to remember them vividly and know they've had a tremendous impact on me... both in my worldview and my paddling skills.

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