// The window light is all white. My spoon dug into a grapefruit, my eyes scanned a book of poetry in front of me. It was January, 11:15 in the morning, and I felt quiet and small. I didn’t know then, although I desperately hoped, the New Year would be everything I wondered if it might be. But it all began quiet and small in the window light.
// It’s March, and I had just arrived in New York, the Subway shook the earth around me. It’s the most wonderful feeling in the world, when the train dives into the earth and comes back out and you can see Queensboro bridge and the approaching city. It was the first time I’d gotten to the city when it was dark, and it seemed entirely different, yet it also felt like coming home. The next morning, I would wake up and follow a map to buy a warm bagel and find a hidden coffee shop. I’d feel dizzy and worn, absolutely wrecked with the thoughts a city gives you and makes you feel wild and alive. Before that day or the next two, I fell asleep in New York, feeling it must be valuable for every girl ending her High School years on the cusp of all things new to walk around in New York and know just how beautiful the world is.
// I graduated in late May, so my brother invited a few of my friends to all jump in our car and drive on top of the only parking garage in Knoxville where you can see the whole city. In a circle, we drank sparkling cider out of solo cup shot classes and laughed at stories from High School. I thought, looking out to the tiny skyline that had brought me my first eighteen years, that somehow, of all the people on the earth, it was grand I ended up here. It was good to have a home, one tucked away in mountains. It was good to say goodbye to one time and hello to a next all in one city.
// It was a rainy June day in Nashville, and I sat reading a Fitzgerald novel, listening to all the conversations happening around. Summer was a time of traveling, and ending up in coffee shops most day with a book in hand and a draft of some sort on the computer in front of me. Beside me, I overheard two aspiring writers discussing their future novels. I sat, almost wanting to pull a chair. I didn’t, but I felt strangely comforted hearing them speak. And after they left, it remained with me. That day I started a rule to never listen to headphones in coffee shops. It’s part of the gradual process I’m learning to let my thoughts out, and others in; I long for a constant flow where I lose track of where my stories end and those who weave in and out of my life begin.
// I’ll never forget last July in Romania, those memories are some of the kindest time’s given me. I’ll never forget my Dad telling me, “This is a different kind of work, it’s an eternal kind.” I’ll never forget the airport when we left: perhaps the most joyful moment I hold in my heart. So much remains with me. I’ll never forget the feeling of reunion, or when we took a seven hour bus ride when we were told it would be two hour one. I’ll never forget the exact winding pathways that led to the mountain sides. I’ll never forget the exact angle from my balcony or the wood table I sat and read my bible at each morning. I’ll never forget how it feels to see people come together so fast as inside jokes and life-changing conversations unfolded within days. I’ll never forget the moment it all made sense: I was sitting in the Church building, the strum of guitars playing as we worshipped together, two communities I had been knit to my whole life in ways deeper than words. Serving there, and never knowing anything else seemed enough.
// We were in the car when my brother asked me how I was doing my first week of college. I had a thousand things on my mind as we drove and listened to the CDs he always keeps in his car on low. How was I doing? The question took me off guard. In contrast to days before, I felt rest. Time and I are always at war: it goes too fast, I go too slow. Sometimes we catch up, and it feels right.
// On the last day of my first semester of college, I found myself standing on top of the parking garage, the same one I came to the night of my graduation. It’d been a safe place in many ways the past semester; it was a place to come and look out and think. I tried to sum up my thoughts on that semester. It was full of late nights eating donuts and road trips to the same mountain tops I love most and cities I’ve never seen. It was full of weak coffee and strong coffee. It was full of feeling tired, in the good ache kind of way. It was full of not forgetting my senior year I thought was lonely, but learning to cherish every second of that year that molded me. I had wanted that semester to echo all of my 2016, I wanted it to be ripe and whole. And it had. Yet, that semester I came to understand in the kaleidoscopic seas, I have a fixed anchor. A few words from Luke 10 became my anthem in my best days and my emptiest: “you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” In the roaring of life, one thing is necessary. When life takes the shape of waiting, one thing is necessary. As the world around me fights for meaning and logic, one thing is necessary. For my life and the things I long for and am called towards, one thing is necessary. One of my favorite things Amy Carmichael ever wrote were the words: “it is a safe thing to trust Him to fulfill the desires which He creates.” One thing is necessary, and in that, I have a secure trust. And whether the Lord fulfills His desires for me tomorrow, or in thirty years, or if like Abraham, I am called to bring my answered prayer up a mountain, with faith to sacrifice it: I long for that one thing alone.
// It was the morning before New Years Eve, and I was in a car driving out of Indianapolis. The city sits still, the wind cold, the sky a light blue. I think to myself how tomorrow is the last day of the year. While normally panic and sadness follows, I felt strangely content. The past year was a full to the brim year. It was to-the-brim whole, seeping out of the edges year. I told myself to never lose it: the wild wonder, the will to go anywhere, the trust to do anything. In that car, thinking back of the people I cherish and the moments we’d shared worshipping the past few days in the city, I realized I wasn’t afraid of losing it. I don’t think I could if I tried.
// It was the new year. I sat, starring at the sun hiding beneath the Tennessee hills. Over break, I longed for fires and familiar faces. I missed the old stomping grounds of campus and the places I found myself everyday. Looking out to the fading light and the fire roaring, it felt like home. It had been a warm winter break, but when it finally grew cold, I took out my coat for the first time in December, and found a folded up map of Manhattan. I remembered the feeling of wind on my face and the thought of being rocked to the bone alive. That feeling settles in a bliss as I stared at the setting sun, ready for the next chapter. My thoughts echoed the words of an old hymn, “the world behind me, the cross before me, no turning back.”