So, just to back up, if you've been around my blog here for a while, you might have noticed that I love living here in rural, central Pennsylvania. I will say, it has not been without it's ups and downs. But at some point over the last decade of living here, I made a decision...not just to tolerate this smalltown life, but to love it. Not just to give a passing glance at my neighbors, but to get to know, love, and serve them. Not just to complain about the way things were going down at school and the community, but to make positive change.
I have mentioned almost none of those life-changing episodes here on my blog, mainly because some of it is sensitive in nature, but these are the experiences that have shaped who I have become over the last 10 years. And the friendships. Oh, the wonderful friendships I've experienced with Moms of all walks. Words can't express how much those friendships have nurtured and taught me.
So yes, I have given my heart and soul to my life here, to the neighborhoods and communities I've been a part of. Where too many transplants come here and complain (a lot) about the lack of stores, lack of "cultural experiences", the very small stakes and wards, the lack of...fill in the blank, I decided not to do that. And because I decided to deliberately fall in love with this place and to see its beauty, it hurts all the harder to leave.
But even the hurt feels good and right to me. If I wasn't sad to leave, then I'd wonder if I'd managed to do what I came here to do.
I'm sure Heavenly Father, knowing my heart, made sure to give me PLENTY of time to start to let go of my life here, and to say my good-byes. He knew I'd need time to accept this change. As soon as the job went away, I knew we would most likely move. So starting in August, I focused on saying good-bye. I focused on not just good-bye but on taking my friends aside one by one and telling them just how much I loved them, what it was that they did for me, what I see in and respect about them. And just giving nice long, real hugs.
In addition to good friends, I found myself saying good-bye to helpers who care for our family: our dental hygenist, my favorite Walmart cashier, my lady at the Post Office, and on and on all who I know by name.
(Knowing most people by name, I'm going to miss that. Seeing the same people day in and day out, I'm going to miss that too.)
The more I thanked people and expressed my love for people, the more aware of my blessings I became. Every time I think maybe I've come to the end of my list of friends to say good-bye to, there seem to be more. This is both humbling and soul-filling.
So, here I am at the end of 10 messy years, really my first decade of Motherhood, looking back with deep, deep, deep gratitude.
At the school where I attended college there was a saying, "To think in such a place, I led such a life." Those words come to mind now when I think about life in Lewisburg.
Do other people feel this way about the places they live? They must. I can't be the only romantic out there.
The saving grace about moving for me is knowing that the Lord is leading us, He is blessing us. He has NEVER let us down before. And I know that He is leading us to the next phase of our lives, to a place where we can learn and grow and continue to become the people he wants us to become.
I am reading a book that I randomly heard about. It's called, "This is Where You Belong: the Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live." I don't anticipate not being able to love where we will be living next. In fact, I probably could have written this book, however I'm open to suggestions, and my heart is open and ready for new friendships, new challenges, new opportunities to stand as a witness.
I'll admit, I've only read part of the very first chapter, but the quote on the first page is one I'm pondering in my mind, and maybe you'll think long and hard about it as well. It goes like this, "A place belongs forever to whoever claimes it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image." - Joan Didion.
I claim Lewisburg, Pennsylvania from June 2007 to December 2016, and I hope when the earth is rolled up like a scroll, it will claim me too.