In my first-ever paid writing assignment, I wrote about summer and God and finding God in the natural world in summer. My husband laughed that I would be writing about nature in that way, I who prefer my existence climate-controlled, and, generally, controlled, bug-free and clean. Nature is messy and unpredictable.
When I was a little girl, I loved summer, like most children do, but not because there was no school. The only way in which leaving off school for the summer was good was because of fall. Then we would go to the mall with my mother, my sisters and I. We would leave with new wardrobes for a new school year, Brownie uniforms, shoes. The first day of school was always too hot, but we would wear our new clothes anyway.
Fall always meant new beginnings. I had a new grade and a new teacher. It was all fresh and full of possibility.
Now every season suggests a new beginning, a turn in the rhythm of life. Where I grew up in California, it didn't snow save on a rare morning when we'd get a dusting of white powder that we wished could be made into snowballs and snowmen but which melted almost as soon as the sun was above the horizon, before we finished the walk from home to school.
In Colorado where I live now, there are four seasons, but they bleed into each other in unruly ways. This year spring was snowier than winter, tulips and daffodils deprived of their best showing by a blanket of cold, wet, white. Summer burst forth in a couple of days as the trees, with what seemed like a pent-up energy, went from barren to full-leaf.
Summer makes me restless. Even I feel drawn out-of-doors where the sun is shining. It seems an affront to stay in the house in the same way that fall and winter and spring allow. But going out is riskier than staying in. In, I get what I get and I know what that is. I know who will be here. I know what to do.
In two days I leave on a plane to fly east across the country then across the Atlantic, for only the second time in my life. This time I will not have my husband next to me, as I did the first time, ten years ago. He will be with the kids, staying in. I am going out and I won't know what I'll get or who will be there or quite what to do.
Life is messy and unpredictable out there. If the rhythms of home are regular and slow, melodic, the rhythms of the world beyond are syncopated, improvised. Aren't you excited to go? everyone asks. Yes. And no.
I cannot deny my desire to stay at home even when the world, when God, is calling me out, out of what is controlled and predictable and clean. It would be an affront to stay in, I know, but knowing does nothing to lessen the draw and temptation of the familiar.
Newness in fall seemed safe. Newness in restless summer is wild.