Seeking Beauty in the Hard Seasons

Park in London

Probably the hardest part of this in-between time for me is the lack of people to talk to. I’m an extrovert by nature. I love and need alone time, but without daily meaningful conversation my energy tanks run dry.

But when you’re moving to a brand new city, there’s not so many meaningful conversations to come by.

I know a handful of people in London and am hoping to reconnect with some old school and Uni friends that I’ve heard are based here. But the majority of them are in jobs so my days are still pretty quiet. Kaya is great fun but not exactly up for deep conversations about life, faith and love just yet!

It would be easier to retreat into a massive self-pity party. And I’ve done that some days. And those days end up sucking even more.

So I am practicing optimism like it’s my job.

Not in a denial kind of way. This in-between season is hard for me, there’s no good pretending it’s not. But if I start by acknowledging that, get the complaint in me out the way, and then put my mind to making this time good as well as hard, the day goes so much better.

Kaya and I are exploring the part of London we’re temporarily living in. The flat we are sharing is pretty run down so we tend to get out early, often the first ones in whatever park we pick that morning. I am an expert now at finding all the hidden local parks. There are a couple of great ones right on our doorstep, including one that has a sign on the gate proclaiming “Unaccompanied adults are not allowed”. Love it.

We go to coffee shops so mama can get her daily latte and Kaya can eat rice crackers and people watch. We have picnics in community gardens and we have even made the 35 minute walk to Regents Park (with the intention of feeding the ducks but we didn’t make it past the fountains. Fountains are fun).

And we are embracing spontaneity. Yesterday we found ourselves at the Quaker House, and headed inside on a whim, and there it was: an awesome children’s corner with books and duplo and animals and dolls for Kaya to bury herself in while mama put up her feet with a piece of flapjack.

You never know what gems you might find when you turn off the beaten track.

I don’t want to pretend this attitude change is easy. It really isn’t. But I’m embracing the idea that my true self can find the beauty and the goodness here today, and that when I start there, I open the door for the Spirit to rush in and help me in that task. She is always eager to point out beauty.

What’s helping is music. Two days ago I woke to a grey gloomy day. But I had a song in my head, one I haven’t heard in ages. It buzzed around my head as walked to the park, and then I sang the lines I could recall as Kaya played in the sand.

“Today the grass is greener than I have ever seen;
Today the sky is bluer than it has ever been…
And today my heart is beating like I’ve never felt it beat.”

The celtic drum beat sounded the background in my head and I found myself tapping my feet even as I pulled my coat closer  around me. The sky was not blue, and the grass was already covered in a carpet of brown leaves.

And yet. And yet that rhythm stirred my heart into something close to joy and I chose to lean into that reality rather than the gloomy one fighting for soul-space.

We have one week left of the in-between season. Then we move into our new home and begin the task of settling – for as long as life holds us here – and discovering our new neighbourhood. In many ways I’ve been holding up this date as the end goal, when I finally get to unpack the boxes and find a sense of balance. But I know as well it is just the start again. A new season with it’s own hard and it’s own beautiful good. And I’ll have the choice before me daily, to retreat into sulky gloominess or chose to find the joy in the midst of the hard.

Today I chose to seek the beauty.