Beginnings

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The past year has been devastating to our family and our circle of friends. Three friends (all Baxter Boys), a cousin, the husband of another cousin and the husband of a friend have all died, leaving behind parents, spouses, children, grandchildren and friends whose lives will never be the same. Whose lives are now at the intersection of endings and beginnings. I do so hope God gives gives each and every one of them a hedge of protection as they take their first steps onto this new path.

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“Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.”

As Cam and I have seen first hand this year, life is bewildering, frightening – even downright overwhelming – when a new beginning is the result of a tragic loss, when that change simply is not one’s own choice. When that new beginning is unplanned, instant and urgent. Rather than feeling bright, exciting and promising, the experience feels dark and foreboding.

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Grief, of course, has no timetable, no logic, no plan. Crying is a given; each one needs to shed the tears they need to shed whenever that may be – something everyone in our circle of friends needs to understand. Patience! My wish for the mourners is that they are able to feel thankful and fortunate for the life and experiences they each shared with their loved ones. Even more, I wish for their recognition and awareness that they will never lose the love shared, that it will live on in their hearts and memories – undiminished, bright and ever-present. Then, and perhaps only then will they be able to allow the the grief to ebb away, to allow their mourning to take its place, ever so slowly and gently, in the further recesses of their minds. To courageously take the first step on the path of their new beginning. That first suspension of fear and trepidation.

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“Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.”

The truth is, every morning each one of us has the opportunity to bravely step onto the path of a new beginning. The choice is ours. Easter, in fact the entirety of spring is the epitome of new beginnings, new life. Spring dawdled up to us this year, arriving slowly and with a few bad-weather-day-hiccups. Now, though, the familiar warmth of the sun teases us; it is bewitching, alluring and captivating. Spring’s new life – both buds and babies – beckons us back outdoors, stimulating our curiosity and offering us limitless possibilities mine, of course, beginning at Presqu’ile.

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I drove into the park with my windows rolled down and my roof open listening to the frogs all singing their hearts out and watching three broods of goslings learn to navigate the pannes under the constant supervision and protection of mums and dads. The cedars are quite obviously having a great year; their profusion of new shoots are a very vibrant green and their scent wafted into the car on each wisp of breeze. Fresh and clean. Three clear and glorious signs of the new beginnings throughout the park. The sky over Presqu’ile was pretty enough to be a screensaver. Le beau printemps à Presqu’ile!

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Spring is pure wonderment; an annual rekindling of marvel and fascination that surprises, awes and pleases us spontaneously. Wonder is embedded in our DNA; dormant, perhaps, until the perfect stimuli assault our senses. During life’s darkest moments, whilst grieving the loss of one too dear to contemplate living without, wonder is there in one’s soul, patiently waiting ’til, completely unexpectedly, a moment reawakens it and a small part of one’s soul remembers there is still a life to be lived, still hope, still curiosity, still love – to be given and received.

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“Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.”

My prayer for the three Baxter Boys’ wives, for Juanita’s husband Philip, for Rhoda, for everyone, in fact, who is grieving is that they feel, in some small measure, the wonder I feel at Presqu’ile, wonder that brings surprise, hope, curiosity and peace. Wonder that brings a new beginning.

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This post was inspired by the lovely writing of John O’Donnohue.  Enjoy:

For A New Beginning

In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.

Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.

Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.
[John O’Donohue]

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‘Til next time, y’all…

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