Photo credit: Pearl Unger

The birds took their time this fall, lingering on the prairies longer than usual. We got more sunshine and warm days than we usually do in Saskatchewan, with autumn stretching nearly two months before the blizzards knocked us squarely into winter. Most of us aren’t ready anyway (How is anyone truly ready for six or more months of winter?). And the birds did their practice flights and then took off, if late.

The four seasons come and go, early and late, without regard to my preference or my readiness. Spiritual seasons are both harder to recognize and easier to ignore – at least for a time.

After my knitting injury this summer, my physio recommended that I take up more regular strength exercise as a preventative strategy for avoiding injury while aging. I still have one more year before my forties, so I am taking the suggestion under consideration. I know she is right. I have managed to lace up my shoes, spend some time on my mat, chase the kids a handful of times. It stops very short of a consistent habit. I have finally stopped believing I will be more valuable if my pants are a smaller size. And I do not know how to exercise without punishing myself. I am not ready.

My parenting feels more lost than found. I want to be more consistent. I see my kids pushing me to the next level. They need me to grow into the next version of myself, mastering adolescent and teen strategies. I am grieving their smallness and my own introduction to baby and toddler parenting. I am not ready to be in the car dropping them everywhere, knowing less about the moments that make up their days, being further from the centre of their collective worlds. They are spreading their wings for necessary migrations and my parenting does not keep up. I know that parenting is something you learn as you go. Still, I am not ready.

My speaking and writing is shifting. I can feel it moving in my veins. It spills out of me and I do not expect what it says. The Spirit whispers to write it anyway. I am afraid of what it means, how it will change me. It is uncomfortable and awkward. I want to do what God tells me to do, go where I am needed, write the words entrusted to me. Tomorrow, maybe? I am not ready today.

Over the last decade, I have made slow and real progress at breaking down my addiction to perfection. I have embraced gentleness, allowed things to shift in me in their own time, invited the grace of being carried. It is still so hard for me to allow myself the time it takes to become ready.

Autumn is a season of transition, a letting go of the things I needed before to make space for what will come next. Very often, I am like my lilac bush still green and bowed in half by the weight of the first wet snow. It needs to be ridiculously and unsustainably heavy before I will consent to drop the summer leaves. I want all the practice flights possible, even if it means flying an extra few days in the cold before I catch up to the comfort of the new that waits for me.

I choose to trust that there is necessary work being done in me while I am getting ready. So much of my resistance is subconscious, chipping away at walls that have been protecting me. I will give myself the grace of growing over a lifetime, receive the love of a God who waits for me to be ready, even while sending me physiotherapists and children and mentors who speak the truth I need to hear.

May I love the me that is not ready. May I hold her with the same tenderness I offer to others who feel exposed and afraid. And may I wait patiently for the readiness to emerge. When the urge strikes to respond differently to the kids, or stretch out beside the weights, may I do just this next right thing without beating myself up for not doing it every time, perfectly, for the rest of my life. May I choose as many practice flights as I need. Amen.

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