God invites us not only to seek Him at the end of the road, but to recognize His face in the present as well. Zsuzsanna Farkas’s thoughts on spring, goodbyes and letting go, and finding freedom after being locked in. The Editor-in-chief of refromatus.hu and her colleague, managing editor György Feke who reported about numerous international and ecumenical events, leave the communication office today.
It happened last weekend. By then, both in visible and invisible ways, spring had arrived: although there were still periods of snow, it was waking up nature from its slumber. This period right after Easter, when budding flowers bear witness to Christ’s resurrection, has always been the best time to visit our tiny weekend house and the surrounding orchard to do some basic maintenance. This countryside property, with its size of only a few hundred square metres and lack of running water, may not have been the best of investments, but I saw it as a land of miracles when I was a child. This time, however, these memories filled me with a bittersweet feeling, as the time had come to say goodbye: we had to pack up and get the place ready for its new owners.
We had been trying for years to sell this tiny, nuisance- and joy-filled island, where there was a break-in nearly every winter, where the soil was so tough that hardly anything could be planted, where bushes had long been nothing but wild – but where, despite all else, we could always feel close to the heavens. I should have felt relieved that it was over, and yet in the first few moments I was in a state of shock: it had been a long time since I last visited the cottage, and I was surprised to see how much nature had taken over. The building and its stone stairs used to seem much bigger, how so many of us were able to sit around the fire mystifies me. In my recollection the trees were smaller, the spaces larger and the city farther away. By now, ivy had crept up all over the walls, the grass was full of patches of wild flowers, and the paths were completely overgrown. Now I am nothing but a mere visitor here.
And then suddenly I felt the light breeze of spring. The scent of the blooming trees and growing grass reached by mask-covered nose and then the realization hit me: when getting out of the car, I automatically put on a mask, having done so routinely for the past year; a completely unnecessary step as no one else was around. And then we came together in a truly free breath of fresh air: summers of years past, a series of memorable stories, and me. For the first time in forever, I was embraced by the arms of April, to help me look back, say goodbye and let go. It was strange to see how much I had outgrown this place that used to be my whole world. It is still familiar, but it is not the same landscape that I used to find so comfortable. But the fact that we obviously do not belong together any more does not mean that saying goodbye is easy. It is not easy because every time I say goodbye, I am reminded that time proceeds in a straight line with no turning back, with no consideration to “what would have happened if”. My memories stay with me but do not keep me here, even if it was here where I learnt to see beyond the shadows of the night, to experience in the rhythm of the seasons that I am God’s creature, to imagine the infinite while staring at the stars, and to simply love life.
And yet, this cloudy, spring-scented afternoon also reminded me that this goodbye is not the end of the road, only a stop along the way. A promise of the future. This message is especially important between Easter and Pentecost, at the narrow border of the changing seasons – with memories behind me, and the great unknown ahead. This is life itself: it points beyond itself, showing the world through a glass, darkly, suggesting smells that break through a mask. And the One it points to is not only waiting far away at an inaccessible distance, but invites me to look behind my fixed routines and “see as I have never seen before”. And this is what true freedom is.
God invites me not only to seek Him at the end of the road, but to recognize His face at crossroads as well, in the silence of Sundays, in periods of mourning, in warm embraces and in farewells. He is there beyond the curtain of everyday routines, connecting and guiding us through tiny miracles.
This is what He meant a long time ago during His farewell when He promised to be with us always, to the very end of the age. This is why change is not a lonely experience, and this is why tomorrow cannot be lonely either.