“The only person who really likes change is a wet baby. “- Mark Twain
I recently visited Minnehaha Falls and learned that the location of the falls has moved over the past one hundred years. Moved. A waterfall. And not just a little. There was a time when the falls moved nearly four feet per year. I find this most interesting and also surprising but obvious.
As I pondered this fact while listening to the pounding sounds of the falls, I was struck by the patience, persistence and power of water to carve solid rock and create an entirely different landscape over time. Similarly, patience, persistence and the power of time are constantly at work modifying the landscape of our inner being. This too is both surprising and obvious, and also natural and good.
There have been times in my life where it was hard to believe that things would change and that difficult situations or feelings would ever be resolved. When the walls pull inward and all we see is dark it is hard to believe the light will ever return and harder still to remember that the planets keep rotating, that day follows night.
I was talking to a dear friend about this very thing recently over coffee. She lost her husband to cancer two years ago and our conversation drifted to the passage of time. She too marveled at the fact that her grieving has taken a different shape over the past 24-months. The edges are now much less sharp, and previously pressing and persisent grief has slipped from her immediate vision to a location on the periphery. This was hard to imagine two years earlier.
“Then again,” she added, “grief bounds back to center stage unexpectedly at times like an eager young canine, though it is no longer with sharp barking. It is more like a wave that washes in then silently recedes.”
We discussed recent life events that marked the passage of time. Her stepdaughter’s college graduation last spring brought to her an awareness of the constantly shifting nature of life. This was yet another of those important life moments for her stepdaughter that her father would not witness. My friend and her husband would not recap things like the color of the caps and gowns, the beautiful spring weather, or the compelling speeches on the long drive home, their faces illuminated by the dashboard lights. Nor would they recall it all in the darkened hush of their bedroom later that evening as they drifted off to sleep.
Rather, in the quiet of her heart, my friend recorded her thoughts in her journal. The only sound was the scratching of her pen on paper. And still, during the graduation ceremony, she took note of the colors, the weather, and the speeches and felt the presence of her late husband there in her thoughts and in her heart.
This experience did not batter her like it once would have but rather it brought an acute awareness of time and the changes that are inherent in its passing. She remarked that her inner self carried a different landscape than it once had because of patience, persistence, and of course time, as well as copious tears, the gift of friendship, travel, activity, and family. For example, she previously wore her laughter like clothing for months on end, never touching her heart, just frantically dancing on the surface. This same laughter is now genuine, heard often in our conversation, and it flows freely from a rediscovered joyful place within.
This healing, the change of inner landscape, left her feeling grateful for the reminder of the impermanence of life, with a not so subtle nudge to pay attention to it all.
As we parted, my friend offered this, “It is a wonder to me that the Great Mystery took notice of my pain and slowly polished away the edges, leaving a smooth and changed terrain on the landscape of my soul. I am humbled and gratful.”
While many fear or resist change, I have come to trust it as a constant. Change is my partner. With patience, persistence and the power of time, change and I journey forward, exploring new, shifting and interesting landscapes.