Monday, February 6, 2017

A time to plant

We are quickly closing in on five months of life in Spain.  We moved into our apartment four months ago this week.  The dust has settled.  Our routine is firm.  The house is comfortable and I finally organized my jewelry drawer.  That's a sure sign of establishment.  The long term goals are beginning to come into focus more than short term survival reactions.  My emotions over this change are leveling out and I feel like I'm lifting my head after a long trek entirely uphill.

These months have felt like that point you reach on a hike up a sturdy mountain, when you have to put your head down and will your feet to keep pacing one tiny step at a time.  Time drags on and you wonder if you'll make it through. At that point though, there's really no other option other than to keep going.  (Unless, of course, you want to call for an air-lift.) Turning back would be worse than pushing through.  And you remind yourself over and over again that there's a reason you like to hike.  The peak is always worth the pain.

This, however, seems to be one of those hidden mountains.  The kind you always think you're just about to conquer, only to reach a look out and find that you have hours more to go on the climb.

I don't have trouble any more maintaining my laundry load without a dryer. My cooking skills are growing and the meals are more creative.  I can go into a store and ask for something without serious anxiety.  I know where to find craft supplies and light bulbs.  I even ride the bus now, right?

But the work isn't over. It's just begun.

The deeper you get into a language, the more you realize it would take you a lifetime to speak like a native.  It's nuanced and complex, and you're diagramming sentences that a five-year-old would say.  Beyond that, we're entering into cultures within cultures.  Culture.  It touches almost every part of who we are. The layers are thick and we hardly know how to proceed at times. It took us ten minutes this morning to construct a simple text message refusing a party invitation.  And even still, we might have given offense.

Lately, the longevity of this move has been settling in. While heartily acknowledging that only God knows the future, we hope this will be our longest stop yet. We are settling in.  And while I generally prefer quick projects that I can cap and move on from, investing here means long work.

This is no day hike.  It's not even an overnight mountain trek. We're talking about the Appalachian trail. I need to plod through past preterite tense and complex culture.  I need to fail in local friendships and try again.  And then I might have to fail again before I get it right.  This is a time to plant. Slow, steady labor that will probably never be tied up neatly and put in a stack labeled "done."  It's time to plant a garden.  To dig into the dirt and do things that might not spring up for years.

 I realized as I wrote this, that in late June my thoughts were very much on how it was a time to uproot.  (You can take the farmer's daughter away from the farm, but you'll never get the farmer out of her:) Seasons mark the earth and they very often mark our lives.

Spring follows winter.  Soon, the snow will lift in, the winter wind will cease and the earth will grow green again.  Seasons change.  And now, it is a time to plant.

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