Last week I was able to share with my church and youth groups something that has been very much on my mind over the last few months. After what will be about four years in my job, Andrew and I have decided to move back to our home county of North Devon. We are really looking forward to the new beginning ahead of us! We’ll be lucky enough to live in Andrew’s family home, with his parents just down the lane and lots of other family and friends close by. It will be so good for us to be where we feel most at peace, and to build a more permanent home for ourselves.
It’s always a strange time when you are preparing to move, and I’ve definitely had that odd mixture of emotions over the last week or two, and plenty of plans and ideas whirring around my head. Andrew’s been making new furniture; I’ve been looking around for jobs and organising get-togethers and moving dates, and there are all the conversations with others about where we’re going and what we’re doing, the people we’ll miss and the things we want to get around to doing before we go…
I tend to get a bit unsettled when anticipating a move. Even two years ago when we just moved to a different house in the same village, I found it quite an upheaval. Perhaps it’s because I’ve moved so many times before. But even though I dread the boxes and the sense of loss and time passing, and the goodbyes and all of those things, it has always been worth it for the new discoveries and friendships, the new little routines and new favourite places, the opportunity to look back and to dream afresh.
I remember leaving Bristol when I was about 15. I sat on the swing in the garden and took in the blue weedy flowers, stared at the old fruit crate tree house, and I reflected back to the swing I’d sat on in our previous garden in Hampshire, and though I felt a little sad, I also felt strangely peaceful. I think I knew that there would always be gardens and outdoor thinking spots, there would always be friends and family, and mostly I just knew that God would always be looking after me.
It might sound a little idyllic, that picture of a girl on a swing – but you have to remember that it was a girl on a swing remembering not just the good things, but the painful things, not just the easy days, but the hard ones too. We all live paradoxical lives of turmoil and rest, happiness and grief, laughter and arguments. It’s just that as I looked back – and forward – I knew that I was cared about by God, and that was, and still is, what matters most.