My eyes are full. And my heart has stored away more images in the ever expanding cache of beauty the Endless Gifts fill. Because my spirit was primed before, our trip to Shepherdstown threw wide the doors of my heart, and tendered my expectant eyes. We return home with no more accolades than with which we left, but now hold a rich experience to look back on for years to come.
Twelve hours, six up and six back, in a metal box on wheels with my three favorite guys, felt like a cocoon with windows. We were cradled in our nuclear family for a time, shed of extraneous concerns, swept close together. There was only us. And the road. And the mountains. And the trees.
Oh, the trees. I have never seen Red Bud so glorious. The newly unfolding leaves on the surrounding trees were the softest of yellow-greens, the perfect complement to the purply-pink cheer of the red bud. At our highest point, Savage Mountain, we crested 2800 feet. Here, the trees were still sleeping, and I marveled at the contrast of their nakedness to the festive wardrobe at lower elevations. The landscape was bleak and harsh until we descended once again into the valleys.
And this dramatic transformation seemed to be the theme of the weekend; for, this weekend I watched as a boy ceased to be a boy. Before my eyes he stepped into the role of young man. As my Teddy walked away from me with the swarm of other math field day participants, it was without a backward glance at his mother. Here he was: strange place, strange people, strange situation…and right in his element. I hovered on the edge of the crowd, feeling that familiar anxiety of being left behind. That fear of separation.
What if he might need me?
I was always there when he was small to smooth away the rough places.
It seems that letting go is one of the rough places for me.
But I did. I let him walk away. Didn’t even make a scene. His joy made it easier. He had earned the right to be proud of himself. I have rarely seen him so silly and giddy. But still, there was a pang. A definite pang.
It reminded me of his first day of kindergarten. I was prepared for tears. I was prepared to shed a few myself. Prepared to peel him off of me like a second skin. But he stalked into the classroom on his short little legs and has never looked back since.
School is Teddy’s thing.
And I have to say, I am a proud mama.
So, the other two “boys” and I roamed the streets of Shepherdstown. And in this beautiful town that boasts itself the oldest in West Virginia, transformation spoke to me everywhere.
Behind an old stone church: a cemetery. The first stone laid in the late 1700s. It whispered the past in my ear, of sadness and sickness and war torn battles. Yet, on the front stoop was a group of college students, doing the things that college students do. Hanging out. Breathing life into this old place.
The original brick buildings, so common because the clay dirt of the area was good for making brick, leered down at us on the main street in their new coats of paint. Transformed into shops and tea rooms. Flower boxes in the windows…Irises intertwined in original ironwork fences.
We passed Trinity Episcopal Church and I fell in love. The red doors surrounded by beautiful stacked stone took my breath away. We took some pictures but I had to go back to take some more. I wanted to go inside. To stand among the pews and imagine the saints who had stood there before me. But when we returned, a wedding party was assembling outside. What had resembled a piece of history in my eyes was alive. Living and breathing in the here and now.
Everywhere, the past and the present mingled. Death and rebirth. Death and rebirth.
I saw the beauty that emerges from the ashes. God held these things out before me. And I felt a peace inside about not only my past, but about where He is taking me.
He is so good.
And as for my Teddy? He is growing up. Transforming into a special young man.
I marvel at this new thing God is doing.
And the gifts go on…
32. Stained glass windows.
32. Stained glass
33. Courtyard gardens in the middle of town.
34. A stone wall built around a late 1700s church with a cemetery
35. St. Peter’s Lutheran church
36. Wrought iron and stone.
39. An old friend, reacquainted.
41. These faces.
42. He still lets me hug him in public.
43. Narrow is the gate…
44. My math kid.
46. Something for now. Something for later.