I was going to do my reflection-on-the-last-year post in August, as I hit the anniversary of when I landed in this little town, stuck my best friend on a plane back east, took a deep breath and started my Oregon life. I never got around to writing it, but I thought about what I'd write. It hasn't changed in the last three months. I could write a long and sappy description of the million people who are my favorites here. I could do a detailed explanation of why I chose the church I go to and how the shape of my relationship with God has stretched and changed and grown into something I really like. But in a few basic and generalized points, I love my life here so much because...
- Every day contains meaningful work and meaningful interaction.
I thrive off of those things.
I love meaningful work, I love doing something I feel like in some small way is adding to the beauty, and is what I'm supposed to do. Every single day here, I have something to read or write that I know is a part of my calling. As stressful and/or mundane as this work may feel at the time, the constancy of my education is a blessing here to my own sense of well-being.
Life in a small town means you are seeing people you know and have relationships with everywhere. Everywhere. I can't go get my coffee in the morning without getting a hug from someone I love. Stopping by the grocery store easily involves touching base on how a test, a work evaluation, a visit, a date, a pediatrician's appointment went. A twenty-minute walk through town may involve someone returning a book they'd borrowed or being asked to hold the baby for a few minutes so a friend can run home to turn the oven off. I can't say how different this feels from my life the year before, or how, as numerous friends have told me, laughing, as I share some random crazy Newberg story, "perfect it is for you".
The consistency and the balance of those two, meaningful work and meaningful interaction, in my daily life keeps me centered and happy.
- It is beautiful here.
My daily, normal, average days include runs by farms under huge towering hills. Girlfriends and I wander arm-in-arm through vineyards on our after dinner walks. Sitting at a red light downtown I casually glance up at the mountains and the clouds low in them. I had no idea how much it would rest and feed my heart to be around natural beauty all the time.
- I was ready to be happy. I was ready to make a home.
The year and a half before I moved here was rich and blessed, and one of the hardest times of my life. I started my first year out of college spiritually shaken and my daily relationships changed dramatically as close friends moved across the country. That year was filled with blessings and I wouldn't change a thing, but it was a stretching and lonely season in many ways. Following those months and a painful spring, I could see the fruit that had come and I was grateful... but I was also ready to be in a new place.
I was longing to be stable. I was so very ready to just be happy.
Sometimes, it feels like this town and these vineyards and this church were here just waiting for me. A sweet surprise I didn't know was coming.
This place and this life are just good for me. I love the slow pace. I love the ease of growing relationships as our daily lives intersect and intertwine. I love the beauty that surrounds me. I love the Quaker influence and the depth and peacefulness that pervades the way people do life here. I love how invited into the lives of the families of this town I've been. I love what role I get to play in their lives and the lives of their children.
I am so very grateful I landed here. It's been a wonderful fifteen months.