In a couple of hours, another friend enters the hospital for surgery and the beginning of treatment for breast cancer. She wonders if she will find the strength and the courage she needs. I know she will. My oldest son adjusts to life after a two year religious mission, reminding himself how to negotiate finances and dating, while his brother prepares to enter the mission field and give up the world for a time. One cousin finishes a college degree in mid-life, while another battles cancer and contemplates graduating from life a little early. Meanwhile, I bike through falling leaves, and the wind carries a chill from the north. The seasons are changing.
This year feels momentous for me. It isn’t really, in the eternal scheme of things. We have our own family transitions, with half of the children living on their own now and the two at home growing so quickly. And yet, we still get up every morning, drink our kale smoothies for breakfast, send the children off to school, go to work, wonder how we will pay the bills even though we know the money always comes through in the end. The sun rises and sets. The farmer will harvest the corn outside my window soon and then plant again in the spring, as he does every year.
Perhaps this year feels momentous because I want it to be, because I believe it has the possibility of sparkle and depth. Some days, many days, I feel the weariness I saw on my friend’s face last night. Today I feel oddly powerful as I sit in my office in my workout clothes, procrastinating exercise and listening to my dog snore on the floor at my feet.
For me, the new year begins with the close of summer. This year the close of summer found me in the Wyoming Rockies while I crossed “hike the Wind Rivers” off my bucket list. My adult boys and I spent a few perfect days hiking, philosophizing, and soaking up beauty in the Green River Lakes region. In the evenings, I watched the moon rise over the mountains while I stirred the fire. For me, Rocky Mountain moonrises hold a special magic, the promise of adventure. They carried me into adulthood my first summer away from home and presided over my farewell when I headed East for a new life. I can see clearly in my memory the progress of the moon over the mountaintop, teetering on the edge for strength before launching into the sky.
Obviously, the moon holds no inherent magic, whether it rises over the Rockies or over a Midwestern cornfield. But perhaps, if I work hard enough to let that moonlight shine through this change of seasons and into the next, I can bring the magic in. I can write more, pull myself out of a rut and into a rhythm, reach higher, breathe more deeply, soak in more of the beauty that surrounds me. I can make the year momentous.