Have you ever noticed that we're almost always "in transition"? I say that because I've realized just how frequently I seem to be waiting -- or trying -- to get to the other side of something. All the while I keep telling myself that in a few weeks/months/years, things will settle down/clear up/be resolved/improve. Despite a huge amount of evidence to the contrary, I've managed to hold on to the idea that life moves from one stable state of things to another. Nonsense!
Several weeks ago, the Editorial Department at Pauline moved its offices from downstairs to upstairs. That one floor move involved restructuring space, going through files, books, and furniture, packing, moving, and unpacking, arranging and rearranging everything that each of us needs to do our work. The process was far more complicated than a number of us anticipated. And I, for one, discovered just how frazzled and impatient I can be when things are out of place -- even when I'm looking forward to the result, and even when the end is in sight.
So, if moving from one floor to another is jarring or disconcerting, maybe I should look more closely at the other -- more significant --changes I've been dealing with this year. One of our children is graduating from college, another from high school, and a third from grade school. Our oldest son is now engaged. Two of our kids will be overseas for summer internships. One will be attending college outside the United States in the fall. My grandmother, who will turn 99 in June, is losing more of her memory. My mom is having a hard time watching her mother's speeding decline. We've had three different health insurance policies since the beginning of January. A few of us have either lost jobs, looked for jobs, found jobs, and/or started new jobs.
Stability? It's a myth. There just isn't any here to be found. Sure, there are a lot of things that can look like certainty, even feel like security. But when it comes down to it, life on earth is one long transition.
I think that is what the Ascension of Jesus Christ teaches us. Our lives here are all about sorting and packing, keeping and letting go, cleaning, and hauling, and well, moving with a capital M. We are going somewhere else. The only real constant is the presence of the God who both goes before us and remains with us. He shows us how to put one foot in the kingdom by keeping one of his own here on earth.
Whether it's climbing the notes to sing in the upper part of your range, or ending one phase of life to begin another, transitions are never smooth or easy. I'm not sure there is any such thing as a "welcome change." In fact, I'm beginning to wonder if the whole notion of "moving on" isn't what it seems after all. Perhaps there is no moving on. Perhaps there is only moving.
But moving can be graceful or clunky. It can bring us to somewhere or someone, or just make us frantic and tired. I don't think any of us has much of a choice about whether or not our lives keep changing. But we do have something to say about how we make, or weather, those changes. We can float or swim, with the current or against it.
And we can float or swim, with God or against him. That is, we can cooperate with the transitions God has planned for us, or resist them.
All the things we value and desire the most -- things like holiness, virtue, selfless love -- mean change and transformation for us. But even when nothing else seems solid, we can stand on the firm ground of God's faithfulness and love. And, even when we're dizzy or breathless or overwhelmed, we can trust that he is moving us closer to himself.
Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a wife and mother of eight children, and a disciple of the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales. She is an inspirational author, speaker, musician and serves as an Associate Children's Editor at Pauline Books and Media.