The Springtime of our Autumn

The Springtime of our Autumn

I said goodbye with my eyes as I slowly looked around the empty house.  It had welcomed me with the open arms of a friend when I first showed up on its doorstep two years ago, badly in need of a refuge and happy place.  I remember stepping into its entryway, thinking that I would be too picky and judge it as a place that could not hold my treasures and favorite things.  I was wrong.  It was perfect, an empty canvass waiting to be filled with our collections of a life time together.

Once we had a place to call home, we took a trip down to Alabama and took our belongings out of storage, bringing them to Sneads Ferry, on the coast of North Carolina.  We desperately needed a place of peace, a place to sort out our minds and rest.  We had been at the mercy of kind, family friends for over six months and it was time to have our own nest.  I set out to feather it with things that made me smile. It was a nest empty of children but full of the things they left behind and the new things I had sought after to fill the in void of familiar faces and things that go with them.

I adored the place.  Somehow, all of my possessions and pretties came together as if I had bought them specifically for that home.  Teapots and teacups, ceramic roosters and artwork with French words,  emerald green and aquamarine glass bottles, beachy quilts and shadow boxes, cross stitched needlework I had worked on through all of my pregnancies, sea glass collections,  garden print fabrics for bedding and curtains, white, creamy 1840’s bedroom dressers with mirrors,  a set of thrift store dining room furniture with peeling paint, fit for a king,  and Craig’s List “to die for” shabby-chic couches and graceful chairs with ruffles were all placed carefully in the Byrd Family Museum.203 a

There was a cherry red painted hutch with blue and pink Willow china patriotically displayed in the wide hallway and warm antique oak tables and washstands glowed in the corners.  Curtain rods wearing shirts from India and Africa hung on guest room walls with colored straw hats flirting from an angle above them;  chic scarecrows keeping an eye out for angels unaware. Oh, and our newest smile maker, a mermaid weather-vane friend, Ariel, was our dining room sentinel beauty.   I filled the dining room windows with a pair of matching antique leaded stained glass windows and lived quietly behind them as I let Fleet Foxes, John Prine and Emmylou Harris loosen the knots that were clotting up my soul, through music therapy.     203 c

At night, Bill and I would open the doors to the old, mahogany book case and gaze at the rows of shiny stemware and wonder why we had so many to choose from since there were only the two of us.  Often times we’d take a glass of wine or a cup of tea and sit on the screened in back porch.  This was a favorite spot.  We filled the corners with Boston and Adelaide ferns, red geraniums and multi-colored impatiens.  Just outside the screen was a row of pink knock-out roses and wind-chimes that sounded like a symphony tuning up when the wind blew hard. We sat on squishy patio chairs well into the night, until we saw the moon rise up over our eight foot fence.  Sitting under the patio fan, we spent time sipping and talking…talking and sipping…wondering what had gone wrong and what had gone right, how the kids were doing and most of all…how we could move near them for our next phase in life and what our “assignment”  would be.

The back porch therapy was the best, sometimes sorting through life with others; my brother Scot and his wife Kelly, fellow ministers who understood our questions and reasoning; my cousin Linda and her husband Bake, who had the ability to listen to our woes and distresses and help us comb out the tangles and knots of ministry life and sometimes… just us and God…God and us… Me and the muse…

Then, I would go and get into my other favorite spot in the house; my bed.  It was high and I bounced up on it with joy and relief that I was there and could sit in such a beautiful spot and be so blessed. I would sleep and think…think and sleep…dream and pray…pray and dream…until the day we were ready and rested up for our next adventure.

Then, it happened.  It had been two and a half years and we had waited for the “go-ahead.”  We were sitting on our happy, yellow, ruffled couches, full from a delicious dinner and the plan opened up to us, filling our heads and swelling our hearts and we knew it was almost time to go.  Time to enter the next phase…the springtime of our Autumn.  Our ground was itching and twitching underneath and roots were trembling and seeds were germinating and shoots were inching up out of the soil towards the sun.  It was time to pack up the house.  We had our assignment.

Are we well enough and of a sound mind?  Are we able to do this?  Are you sure we’re not too old to leave this behind to start all over again?  Can God give us a vision at this point in our lives to help others?  To make us feel significant in this crazy world?

We thought He could.  We were confident in the plan.  It was the “Byrd” Arab Spring.  We had mountains to climb and places to go.  People to help and grandchildren to watch grow before our very eyes.  We packed it all in, moved it into storage and began our move to Nashville, Tennessee.

I walked through the empty house, my footsteps sounding loud on the hardwood floors.  I saw birds out in the back yard looking for bird seed and I willed them to go two houses down to another bird feeder.  I checked the dryer to make sure there was no laundry accidentally left behind and I checked the toilets to make sure they’d all been flushed.  All of the words that had been spoken, all of the dreams imagined and prayers requested had been hidden in our hearts. Within the house, there was no trace of us left.

I closed the front door and made sure it was locked. I stepped back and looked at the house where we nursed our wounds and bided our time.  Thank you, God…Thank you house.  We were whole.  We were healed.  We had left the building.

Here’s your song…




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