The dress in the window at 2 on Crescent is gone now.
After months of walking past that window display on work breaks, the iconic dress I always admired is gone.
I never made it mine.
Never satisfied with myself, I never achieved worthiness to possess that dress, much less actually put it on and unite myself to it. Not yet. Maybe in a month. Maybe the month after that.
And the days keep passing and then the seasons change and all of a sudden it’s been years and here you are. In the same place, but the dress is gone. Things do change. Just not the things you expect.
I’m 48 years old now. I never thought I would be 48 years old.
28, yes. 38, most definitely yes—wasn’t that what I was reaching for all along? But 48? It’s hard to grasp.
My mother was 48, but I still wear cool shoes. Doesn’t that count for anything?
I didn’t expect to be here in this same place and so not the same as what I envisioned either, and I find myself so puzzled by the changes that crept up around me—the ones I didn’t see coming. Mindsets.
“I have no notion of loving people by halves,” says Isabella Thorpe in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. “It’s not my nature.”
The quote resonated with me years ago. Decades ago. I thought it was a universal truth.
But this one might be: “You can’t pour from an empty cup.”
I’ve wrestled so long with this idea of contentment and fulfillment and my own nature to want something that is not clearly defined and somehow out of reach but just barely and if I wait just a little longer or work just a little harder or gaze just a little more determinedly on the face of Jesus and die to self just a little more enthusiastically then any minute now it will be attained. But that change doesn’t seem to come. The Holy Contentment isn’t realized, not that I haven’t tried.
I can’t deny there have been needed changes. Absolutely needed for survival. But one thing I have had to swallow, finally, is the reality that survival isn’t always solution.
Necessary, yes. Absolutely. There is no cause to look back in that case. But looking ahead comes with troubles and questions and choices and disappointments all its own. It's not as if we ever say, "That's resolved and now it's time to soar."
Would I live by formula if I could? To see the end and attain it by a series of calculated steps? To lay a map and follow it? A program. A manual.
Is certainty worth a soulless burden like that? Sometimes I’m not sure. Two roads diverged, that is for sure, and I took one and left the other, not knowing what lay ahead but yes, expecting.
There is a reality over all of this that I want to lay hands on, but the stuff of faith isn’t about grasping with the hands, but taking the next step toward the end, not knowing how way leads on to way, but knowing it does. And somehow, this changing path that’s always still the same is going somewhere, toward Someone.
Maybe that’s why contentment is always just out of reach. If I were truly satisfied in the moment, would the future hold any draw for me at all? Is there a gene for hope somewhere in the human DNA code, and perhaps it pours out its signals at some mitochondrial level that tells me really, we have one foot in another world, and this dissatisfaction is Holy? A Holy Discontentment? A place to rest within dissatisfaction?
We are not yet what we are to become. Loving by halves. Seeking survival in the moment out of necessity. Falling short of reaching yesterday’s goal, yet again today. But on a winding path of loops and detours and dead ends that require some steps backwards at times, always on our way to a destination, a holy one, defined by completion and fulfillment and . . . love. A love that never changes, and in that, changes those that enter it. A love that comforts. Fills. Includes. Desires. Sings. Sees. Leaves nothing wanting.
Isn’t that what Love’s supposed to do?