A few weeks ago, I saw it budding.
The last time it looked like that... I saw it, too. Looking out of the same window.
I have now spent twelve full months in one place. For the last... ok, not 365 days technically, but over 350, which I say counts- days, I have slept in the same bed. I get up every morning and drive to the same job. And there every day I blessedly, wonderfully, do... the same thing I have done for the last. twelve. months.
The trees were just budding when I started there. As they were wide and green all spring and summer long, I drove down Roosevelt into West Chicago and did my paperwork and got to know my families. Through the humid summer, I ran on this prairie path, got frappuccinos at this Starbucks, finger-painted with my kids outside on the grass. This whole fall, I was here, carving pumpkins (three times, in fact, because I didn't have a fall my HNGR year and I was absolutely maximizing this one!!), going apple picking (twice- see what I mean?), taking long walks alone among the leaves. They changed and fell and it snowed and I walked in that too, and then I got sick of walking in it and watched it from inside, and drank hot chocolate with my roommates and decorated our Christmas tree. It kept snowing. I held a Valentine's craft party and walked on a frozen lake with my small group, my kids made cotton ball snowmen and we sang about spring coming. I dared to slowwllyy shed first the down jacket, then the jacket, and now, finally, the sweaters. I am in short sleeves and flip flops and swingy skirts and I meet friends by the lake behind Rez multiple times a week to sprawl on the grass as we chat in the sunshine. This week my babies and moms and I took walks and pointed out the colors of the flowers.
I have had a year of serving Eucharist at church on Sunday mornings. I've had a year of doing life with my small group every Sunday night. I've had a year of journaling in the same coffee shops I journaled in in college. I've had 52 weeks of coffee heart-to-hearts with Tamara, of family dinners with Ryan and Kendra, of running with Meghan and pre-work breakfasts with Chet. 52 weeks of Christine and Steve and Elise, of Rez and Iglesia and my ten beautiful families.
Jana asked me on a Saga date mid-last semester, "What are your non-negotiables?". We were all weighing so many things as we tried to figure out where we'd be post-graduation- job opportunities, relationships, adventure, finances... What were going to be my deciding factors?
I needed to be in one place. I needed to have four full seasons in one place- in a familiar place. I didn't know why. I just knew I did.
Seeing that tree (seriously- that was what made me think of it. It's a really pretty tree :-P)- seeing that tree, I realized I saw it go through its entire life cycle this year. It grew its leaves and lost them and stood bare and grew them again and now here they are. Again. I saw all of it. I saw Wheaton, I saw my families, I saw the same friends, through twelve whole months. Through one entire rotation of the earth around the sun, I was here, doing a few tasks and loving the same people.
Written down this sounds really obvious and not that exciting. And I know that after college, this becomes the norm- most likely in the not-distant future, I'll spend two, five, ten or twenty!, full years in the same place with the same people.
But this first year of it since high school, and especially the year after HNGR and cancer, I'm so grateful. This world turned all by itself as I walked the same streets and loved the same people and focused on my simple work. The seasons changed as I healed and, somehow, that let me just be.
And I am so grateful for that.
The tree outside my office, mid-October.
"...Summer and winter and springtime and harvest
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love."