Yesterday, driving home from a college visit in Eastern Washington, I was overcome by the site of trees in bloom. "Spring is so refreshing!" I said outloud to my sleeping family nearby. We've had a particularly cold, gray spring this year in the Pacific Northwest, and yet, here were the trees, starting to bloom just like any other spring. I was reminded of the line from "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." The Grinch is pondering how the Whos down in Whoville could be celebrating when he took all their gifts. "Somehow or other, it came just the same," he muses about Christmas. And here was spring, coming just the same, even without the usual gifts of warmth and sun.
Earlier that day, I'd been clutching palms during Palm Sunday Mass at the student chapel at Gonzaga University. I am not Catholic, but I wanted to attend, because it was Palm Sunday, and the priest who was giving the homily used to be on staff at my son's high school. Plus, he's funny.
I use the word "clutching" on purpose about those palm leaves, because as this amazing man was talking to us parents about our children going away to college, and joking about religion, and making analogies with Holy Week, and talking about discernment, and the greater good, and what's it all about anyway--I needed something to hold on to. So, I clutched my palm leaves.
Letting go for me is a process, fraught with tension, private and not-so-private tears, blessed moments of laughter and gratitude, intermittent regret--all of which eventually result in an unfurling of metaphorical wings and a greater capacity for love and acceptance. Hanging on to those palm leaves allowed me to let go of another piece of what my family has been so I can continue to move forward and embrace what it is becoming.
And it is becoming. Much like the tender, vulnerable, new leaves of spring--quietly but persistently unfolding--my family is blossoming. It won't look the same way it did last spring. There are some things that have been uprooted to make more room for growth. There are others that are bigger and stronger. We need to prune a few things so more growing can continue. My husband and I will need to learn how to live in this spacious nest. It's not always a pretty process, and involves not a small amount of pain. But like spring, our family will continue to grow and become what is next.
And that is reassuring.