Moving

I used to talk to myself a lot during my college years. Maybe I had too much time on my hands. But our conversations were sometimes illuminating. 

Sometimes.
 
It was a sunny day, early in the fall semester. I sat beside a window on the library’s top floor. My limbs weighed heavy with pressing questions, the ones about distant destinations. From my oversized chair, I saw how the laurel oaks were shedding their leaves and already covering up paths. Was one of them mine?
 
I wanted out of that library.
 
The weight of my books didn’t matter. Back then, I needed only a single leather strap over my shoulder to tote around everything that mattered. My blue Jansport fit like a good home, still mobile enough for me to move.

The weather told me where to go. I headed down the river walk, past the ducks and all their droppings. Once, as I trekked down this same path, some kind of Jedi bird had pooped on my shirt. But today I felt luckier, as if The Force was on my side, not theirs.
 
My spot was a good ways down the river. Built into the grassy bank was a half-circle nook constructed of white stone. It was rimmed by a stone bench. In the center stood a tall, large slab of stone. You could stand on it, sit on it, even lie down on it.
 
But you could always think on it. The hum of cars was quieter here, though bike tires occasionally sliced through my space and solitude, leaving long, airy trails behind them. Overhead, a pair of Canada geese did the same.
 
The blue water seemed to move with the same freedom as my backpack. Both were in possession of a strong current, one still unchained to possessions, mistakes or rusty attitudes. The water simply moved, rejoicing as it rippled and stirred around fallen trees and stones. Here, even obstacles made beautiful sounds.
 
Maybe rivers point to destinations, but they sound more like journeys. Especially to a college student.
 
My trusty Jansport brimmed with plenty of dog-eared questions and hard-bound, opposing directions. But tucked in among the textbooks, I also enjoyed the bright respite of oranges and green apples.
 
But more than anything, I longed to taste the future.
 
Did I open any of my books on that autumn day? Probably not. The questions were already in my head, and I was pretty sure the answers were somewhere out there.
 
I followed the river and asked a question. Stuck there in the center was a massive stone block, one end of it buried in the current. 
 
I was one of those silly college students, desperate for some kind assurance about the future. I’d take whatever sign I could find to help me choose my next major. But there was another question closer to my heart.
 
Would I write a book someday?
 
I think my irritable maturity syndrome must have flared up when I saw the sun’s reflection stretch out over the water in a fiery line. Hmm, I told myself. Maybe this was the sign I was after. Maybe God wants to show me something here. So maybe if that line could just move a little to the left to touch the stone, I would know.
 
Oh, silly me. I watched and waited with unblinking anticipation. But nothing moved, except my shoulders. They disappeared and drowned.
 
I jumped down from my rock, landing with a sigh. But then something happened. As I moved, the reflection cast upon the water also moved. The light wasn’t fixed. And neither was I.

My eyes beamed when I saw it: Reflections can move.
 
Oh, silly me. If nothing else, here was a confirmation that I would never make it as a science major. 
 
But a larger truth: I can’t wait around for signs. I must move and make things happen. 
 
This time of year is ripe for making resolutions. To some degree, we all have them, and we’ve probably been waiting years for them to move.
 
So won’t you jump down from your stone and join me? I’ve already seen a glimmer of hope.

30 thoughts on “Moving

  1. “I can’t wait around for signs. I must move and make things happen.” This is so true. And you illustrated this truth so powerfully with your experience. Reflections move.

    And WHEN you write that book, I will be in line to buy it and read it. I support your writing, wholeheartedly. A visit to your blog is ALWAYS worthwhile.

  2. these posts are always so good; it’s hard to know when to say something. but this one…this one is wonderful. this one is powerful. this one really got me. (probably because i, too, am a silly college student…but that makes it even better.) thanks, again, for sharing.

  3. So lovely, Matthew. And thought-provoking too. Stopping by to wish you much joy in following those moving reflections (er–Happy New to You). It has been such a pleasure to read your words these past months. Many blessings.

    • Thank you, Laura. Hearing your voice blesses me. Yours is a voice which moves and sounds like a hundred starlings — and even smells, sometimes, like Murphy Oil Soap. May God bless you in the New.

  4. “Maybe rivers point to destinations, but they sound more like journeys.”

    We love to wax poetic when we speak about the future, but the truth is, that it’s all about hard work. Yes, sometimes God intervenes and just blesses us . I’ve received lots of those great gifts. But the river isn’t a floating one — it’s a paddling one.

  5. This pulled me straight back to Lake Luverne on the Iowa State University campus. I’d sit by that rippling pond and ponder and wonder and wish and dream — willing all my dreams to come true.

    But yes, reflections move.

    Some of my biggest dreams came true, and others … well, let’s just I’ve been moving, moving … away from places that held my dreams, and into places where I’ve only begun to dream.

    Many blessings to you as you chase the beauty of your own dreams, all reflected and glimmering.

    • Reflections move. We get so heavy with memories. But I like how sunlight moves, how it moves over water like quiet memory. We need to keep ourselves light and moving. I’m glad you’ve been moving. The light keeps you dreaming.

  6. Matthew, I’ve tried a couple of times to leave a comment and it disappeared…trying again.. your post has really made me think…you are such an inspiration and I have been blessed time and time again by your words of wisdom and intrigued by your beautiful gift for the written word. You paint such vivid pictures! Bless you and yours richly this year. May we all be moved to action using the talents God has given us…for His glory. This all made me want to be a forceful wave instead of a ripple in the pond! I’m so blessed to have met you …expecting great things in this new year!

    • Well, thanks for the tenacity in trying to leave a comment. (Why must simple things get caught in such complicated cages?) You know, there’s probably a good lesson for me here …

      Thanks for your kind, encouraging words. You’re always a blessing. May God bless your voice for a new year. For new waves.

  7. What a similar scene I could paint, complete with a backpack full of questions and a heart hoping for confirmation about the unknown future…and an eye on the lookout for signs.

    Though we only had a little creek trickling through our campus instead of a river, and giant oak trees in place of laurels, I’ve had so many of those thoughts. I even wondered about a book someday.

    You have me reminiscing, thinking back to paths and how choosing one closes off all others for the time being; and yet, setting off down a reasonably clear path seems better than sitting indecisively and indefinitely at a crossroads, worry about choosing the wrong one.

    Even if resolutions fizzle out in a month or so, I think they’ve done something good if they manage to nudge us to take a few steps down a path we’ve been considering but shy to explore.

    • I think you’re right, Ann. I believe some of our most important paths, real or imagined, are bound up in the same sense of place. We need to explore and discover and know our own particular Place like the back of our hand. It’s good to explore trails. They are, after all, our trails.

  8. “Irritable maturity syndrome”.
    I think I have a case of that too.
    Love reading your words here Matthew. And I must move too.
    Move to make things happen.
    All in His grace and perfect timing.
    Happy New Year my friend!

  9. Matt, You have this great way of allowing us to learn through your lens. Interesting that the water pushes at the obstacles but doesn’t insist hat they are removed, just moves on around them and makes a rejoicing sound as it moves on by.
    A great perspective, one I needed to picture. Thanks

  10. Matthew – Oh, how I can relate to the ponderings, the questions, the anticipation of what tomorrow brings. And yet, he has already planted in us what will one day be birthed in us. I often wonder if we wait for Him…..yet, it is Him who waits for us….to lay down our seed in fertile soil, position ourselves to be watered and fed, allowing Him to prune us….so that we will grow only for His purposes. What an awesome question….What will tomorrow bring?

  11. Thank you for those words. The Lord gives us abilities and talents and desires and dreams. He also gave us hands and feet and a will to MOVE. Thanks for the encouragement!

  12. Matthew,

    Sometimes we wait on the Lord for answers and our human expectation is so different from what He has in mind for us. We wait thinking we know how He will answer and so we keep on waiting and waiting for that answer. And maybe that answer we were expecting never comes. Maybe it is because that was not the answer that ever was to be. Sometimes His answer is what we think is no answer at all.

    Remember what James said in Chapter 2:21, 22: “Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.”

    Faith is a good thing to have and leaving room for His will in your life is exactly what you are supposed to do; but you are right. You must move to make things happen.

    By the way, please let us know when you are going to make that move and we will be with you all the way to support you in whatever way you need. You know what I’m talking about, brother!

    Love,
    Tara

  13. The scene you depict is so simple and so serene that I can feel the nurturing of nature that lies dormant in placid, distant memories. I just relax and enjoy it with you. Then as you find lessons in experiences, I find a neat one that runs complimententy rather than counter to yours – like the yen-yang balance in life. You say “The water simply moved, rejoicing as it rippled and splashed over fallen trees and stones. Here, even obstacles made beautiful sounds.” Maybe, we, not the obstacles, make the beautiful sounds – of joy when we note that when we follow your advice to keep moving, the obstacles, with the help of God, can be overcome. It is little wonder than the book inspired by the God of nature advises, “2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,…” [James 1], for obstacles provide an opportunity for ultimate rejoicing while water encountering an insurmountable barrier is somberly silent.

    • “for obstacles provide an opportunity for ultimate rejoicing while water encountering an insurmountable barrier is somberly silent.”

      That is beautiful. And I hear so much truth in your words.

      And so grateful for our connection this year. Blessings, friend.

  14. Hello Matthew .. This year is a year of changes for me .. I have decided to be focus and to walk the path .. the battle of the last a few years was taught on me and I have gained / lost a lot but I know in all that the spirit of hope in me through Christ did win all the way through , though at some stage i could not see it but i know I was a winner even when i was down under .. I am joining you .. :)

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