Wednesday, August 29, 2007

An Ode to the Simple Life (and a fond farewell)


The trees sway in the cool breeze outside my balcony, the moon's pale luminescence casting an uneven glow over the city. I look up, losing myself in the motion of the trees and their oneness with the night. Their rustling taps into a buried memory, and for a minute I'm young again, a child running through the forest with a stick in my hand, ready to slay dragons and find the princess. With a blink, the memory fades, but my smile remains.
It's been four years since I first set foot on the balcony of this apartment, when I first felt the strange peace of artistic freedom within its wooden contours. It isn't something I speak easily of, if only because most people would not understand, but the day I set foot in the apartment, I knew that it was right for me. But now it is time to leave. Garbage and leftover furniture lay strewn around the place like so much waste. Even now, I tap onto a keyboard set in the middle of an empty room. Memories fade, but when we change our lives, their presence is always stronger.
I feel it now.
I remember my first month here, still bleeding from the wounds of my divorce. Any solace from the view and trees surrounding the apartment were lost in the bitterness of a failed life, of failed expectations, and little hope. Back then, this apartment was a haven for my sorrows, a place to hide when the pain of human contact became too great. Back then, I did not have any real friends in Ottawa, even after six years in this city. Back then, this apartment was my hope for the future. In so many ways it represented what I was and what I longed to be.
Those days are over.
I glance up at the moon. The warm light feels as tangible as the sun, and the shadows it casts feel friendly to me. So much has changed for me these past few years. I have lived a whole lifetime in this place, and the leaving brings sorrow. Still, I am astounded at the changes in my own life.
We rarely notice change within ourselves, we are too close to observe things as they really are. But even I can see where my journey has taken me, and where I have taken my journey. I would never have believed someone if they told me that I would be heading back into religious studies. That I would be looking to ministry. Even now, I am not sure exactly how this all happened.
What I do know is this: life is not as complicated as I once thought.
Yes, life has complications and it has its share of pain, but life itself is not complicated. In God's eyes, it is relatively simple. We are to love Him. We are to love those around us. Hard, but not complicated.
That does not mean we become pushovers, that we bend a knee to everyone who crosses our path. That is the sin of 'niceness.' What it means is that we strive, with heart and mind and soul, to love our neighbours, to love the unlovable, to love every human we meet.
There are many who have written popular songs about the power of love, but when I listen to their lyrics, they cheapen the most powerful and subversive force known to humanity. There is nothing greater than love. Unfortunately, saying this conjures images of the ridiculous hippies from the sixties who believed that love meant apathy and drugs... that freedom was to be felt in the mind or in romance.
I stand and stare through the trees to the neon cross shining in the darkness. It isn't love I'm thinking of tonight. Mostly I'm thinking about how God truly does change our lives. We often look to God for plastic surgery. What He wants however, is often just to point us in the right direction. Unfortunately, when the day finally comes, we don't even realize He's been there all along.
In a day, I'll be in a new place, a new life. This apartment will be gone forever. But no matter what happens, I will always remember this home, this balcony, where the trees whispered their secrets and the moon gazed upon me in all of her brightness. I will remember my friends who encouraged me, the ones who read my blogs and gently laid an arm across my shoulders as I pursued my dreams.
To them than, and to all of you, this is my fond farewell from 240 Presland Rd. apartment 303, Ottawa. The next time I write I will be in Toronto. And while my location will be different, the goal, will be exactly the same:
To spread God's love.
Not in the manner of someone handing a joint to the person next to them, nor the manner of the aggravated church goer telling their neighbour that they need to act as they do. Somewhere in the middle lies the balance.
Instead, i go to love and to think and to pursue. There is so much of life I don't understand, but what I know is this: Following Jesus makes no sense outside the kingdom. Being a Christian makes no sense outside the outside the pursuit of working to love those around you. Thinking about my faith in any other way offers only confusion. The only way is the simple way.
"Love them child. Love them as I love you."
Everything else does not make sense, but then, that's part of God's plan too, isn't it.
May God help us this week to understand that while we may not see Him, He is working in all of us, and that even when our lives change, one thing remains forever.
-Steve