twas the evening before halloween

The snow began falling early afternoon, on the Saturday before Halloween, and by early evening, we had lost electricity. On Sunday morning we woke up to an altered landscape. We took a ride to town in search of hot tea or coffee and as we drove through town we couldn’t believe our eyes. There were trees split in half, spread on snow covered lawns. The roads, side walks, and open spaces were covered with broken branches and fallen trees.

The snow came unexpectedly and hit hard, before the weather had turned cold and the trees had the chance to prepare for winter. The weight of the wet, heavy snow proved too much to bear and the trees fell.

The big crab apple tree in our front yard had bowed all the way to the ground by our front door. The magnolia that the girls and Neal had planted for me, as a Mother’s Day present, was lying broken by the stream in the back yard. The sturdy branch on which the girls’ tire swing has been hanging for the last ten years, broke right above the joint that the rope was tied.

Sometimes change hits hard and all we can do is go with it. It’s been only a little over two months since Irene hit and we find ourselves coping with similar conditions, much colder temperatures and a tougher recovery.

I’m writing this, sitting at our local Starbucks, on Halloween. My daughters are at a friend’s house for the evening, where there’s power, warmth and comfort. My husband and I chose to stay home. I made chicken soup on our grill outside and toasted some bread to have with it. We came to Starbucks to have hot chocolate, charge our phones and computers and to write. There are many people around me that are here for the same reasons. We look at each other and smile with a sense of common understanding. People bond over circumstances like this.

I can’t help but reflect on the process of change and transition. Change happens, sometimes gradually, slowly, over a period of time and other times suddenly, powerfully and undeniably. Sometimes we see it coming and often we initiate it. When it finally arrives, we embark on the journey of transition the best we can.

When change strikes out of the blue though or it catches us unprepared, the impact can be quite dramatic. How well we go through transition depends greatly on our level of preparation and mental attitude.

Whether we like it or not, we wished for it or not, change will test us. It will test our faith, our resolve and our resourcefulness. It will test the beliefs we hold dear and the rules we live by. It will force us to question everything we take for granted. The transition that follows change, is a journey of personal transformation; an initiation process into a different state of being.

As I look at the broken, fallen trees I wonder . . . will they recover? Will they bounce back to their original shape? How will the once familiar landscape of our town look like, come spring? I really don’t know. I have no way of knowing how nature will proceed or how the trees will respond to this transformation. All I can do is wait for nature to take its course.

I’m sad to see the once familiar lying broken. I’m worried about the future, but my responsibility is to focus on what demands my attention in the present moment. Everything slows down when something this drastic happens. We’re forced to pay close attention to details we may have previously taken for granted and be truly mindful.

Change is not meant to break us – although it may feel like it at times. It’s meant to polish our perception and powers of attention. Step by step, it leads us through the dark tunnel of uncertainty and insecurity and all the way to the other side, a side we never thought existed.

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