New Starts

Forget January, June is the new start month for many folks. June brides, June grads (although it seems that at least in the South all the graduations are done in May), June being "school's out," the last month on the lease in the apartment rented for college/grad school. And although it's just early May now, there's all this planning to do for June. Vacation, VBS, new lease, good-bye parties, moving...... And May? May is just like a sliding board. One gets on the top and then off you go through all the May planning and May events and land on the bottom quickly and it's June.

It's a time to be nervous, to be anxious, to be excited about the future, to be worried about how it will all work out. To be sad about leaving and happy about starting anew. To have the mixed feelings that are all but required for all changes of seasons of whatever kind.

Some years ago, I was in a women's Bible study group at church. It was a new group, started by our new priest at the beginning of the school year and made up largely (but not exclusively) of moms whose kids had choir practice on Wednesday afternoons. A captive audience, so to speak. But it was a really great group and a really great experience. And at the end of the choir/school year, our priest reminded us that even if we got back together the next year, it would not be the same. Some folks would not be back and other new folks would join us. At the time I was kind of surprised that we were even having that conversation... of course it has to come to an end, of course it will be different next time. But I was also surprised to notice that I felt a little bittersweet myself. The bittersweet twinge was a new feeling. It had been a great group, and I had loved it, and I would look back on it fondly - I still do.

I used to be all about new starts. Maybe it's a sign of having a short attention span, but for most of my life, I needed regularly to do something new. New challenge, new apartment, new job. At least rearrange the furniture or get a new book or haircut or something new. I was not particularly sentimental, either, so even if new stuff meant letting go of old stuff, well, so what? New and shiny, that was for me.

And to a certain extent, it still is. I still love new starts and new books and new ideas and new friends (I can't really rearrange the furniture - I have one of those houses that only allows certain arrangements, given my stuff).

But now I am often aware of the bittersweet nature of endings and beginnings. I am also aware that sometimes one can hang on to the old and still get some new, too. Oftentimes, even. But not always. Just sometimes. Like with friends. And antiques. And books. But not so much experiences.

Things change. One doesn't step in the same river twice. Life goes on. All that. It's nice to be able to look back at a time and say, oh, that was fun. That was a nice time in my life. That was a growing time. I loved it when the kids were that age. I was so lucky then to be living here or working there or going out to those places. Or whatever. It's nice to have memories and to cherish them and take time to cherish them. It's also nice to look forward. To dream and imagine and get excited about new possibilities, the chance for new experience, new feelings, new relationships, a new time in my life.

It's not hard to get stuck somewhere. Either to not be able to let go - to hang on to the past - or to not be able to stop trying to start over fresh, to just shed everything regularly, compulsively. It's hard to discern sometimes what needs to be shed and what should be carried forward.

June is that kind of time. May is the time to get ready for it.