One particularly difficult winter I found myself wracked with fear, anxiety, and depression. During this dark time, I held on to my church community like a lifeline. We met in a converted school, made up of multiple buildings separated by a minimally landscaped courtyard – some grass and scrubby shrubs. On a December morning, as I prepared coffee for the church service, I noticed a splash of color in the faded green. It was a lone rose, a pretty salmon pink color, blooming in the cold. What are you doing out here? I wondered. Rose season is long gone. I assumed it was just a late bloomer, its lifecycle skewed by the buildings’ shadows.
Weeks passed. I started an antidepressant and counseling, and began the archaeology of my mind and soul. My husband and I adopted a cat*. We fasted and prayed with our church family. Healing was slow work. Many times I wondered why I couldn’t “fast-track” myself and “just get better.” But there was no way but through, and I continued on the path. Every Sunday, I would look outside the church building. The salmon-pink rose was there every week. It lasted an extraordinarily long – supernaturally long? – time, months even. I remember seeing it on frosty and even snowy January mornings, thinking, Well, you’ll be gone next week, and somehow it would make it through. To me, it was a tiny sign, a reminder that no matter how bleak things looked, I was on the path to Spring, and it would come.
It did come, and so did children, career, calling, confusion, some clarity, and plenty of grief. More than a decade later, the image of that “reluctantly blooming” rose means something different to me. Since that time, many experiences have called me out of my small, tight (I prefer “cozy”) comfort zone to – do what? I was going to say lead, but what I’m finding increasingly is that these encounters have called me to just be my authentic self with others. And somehow that is helpful to them, healing even. I think this is a mystery. “Being authentic” is a mystery in itself, one I am still trying to unravel. This blog will chronicle my journey as I learn to, in the words of The Velveteen Rabbit, “become real” – often in spite of myself.
*We still have the cat. I think she needs therapy after living with us for 13 years.