Saturday, June 27, 2009

"I am the vine, you are the branches..."

Several years ago we planted Virginia Creeper. It is a vine that grows with gusto. It sends out beautiful tendrils and interlocks to "creep" up and over everything. We have tried other vines, but none can compare to the fast growing nature of the Virginia Creeper. One of my summer break activities has been to redirect it upward over a gazebo in our backyard. Those sticky finger-like tendrils have reached out to grab a foot hold in an attempt to go up. Unfortunately it needed some help. Many branches were knit so tightly together that I had to break apart the spiraling fibers linking them to one another. In essence that is how we are feeling leaving this area. We are linked to various communities here with interlocking experiences steeped in the ordinary.
Several events have led to this realization that we are connected here. Yesterday, I attended the memorial service of a former students. Amidst the shared pain of losing a wonderful young man, it was satisfying to reunite with former students and friends. It was a time of reconnection and it served to sooth the wound in our hearts at this loss. Another sobering moment for us was when Paul wrote a farewell email to the Mt. Spokane Ski Patrol. After serving 10 years with them, Paul has amassed a voluminous knowledge of dealing with injuries on the slopes. Even more importantly than the breadth of on-scene-management skills acquired are the relationships forged through training modules, Saturday potlucks and Sunday left-overs, the Swap, codes, toboggans, bump shack, sweep, refresher, etc.
In an effort to go up, we are unclenching our tightly wound fists. This will surely be a bittersweet time and a challenge to our family psyche to be geographically separated. Like the Virginia Creeper we are connected at a common place. The vine connects and provides life for the branches regarless of location. In our faith we know that Christ is the life giving vine and the body of believers is the vibrant vines encircling one another. We take heart that though we are sent up to Alaska on a new route we are intrinsically connected beyond space and time.
As it was a shock to my poor Virginia Creeper to be unbound and then circled around new and foreign strings leading it upward, it will also be a bit of shock for us. I imagine it will be similar to plunging into cold water. It will at first make us gasp for air and then at some point we will adjust to our new surroundings and breath easy in the refreshment of the new. Though we mourn the change, we rejoice in the excitement of our coming adventure.
The life cycle of this vine will mirror our migration to the north. It sheds its crimson leaves in the fall. Though it stands dormant through the winter, it is still present. The vine endures the elements only to return in its vibrance in the spring. Yes, we are departing, but we will return to build on those relationships. We leave for Deering on the 27th of July. We will be summering with you all beginning in Mid May. Onward and Upward.

JOHN 15:4-5

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