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  • Writer's pictureChar Seawell

“A feather on the breath of God…”

To say “I want to be a feather on the breath of God” is easy. To live it out has its terrifying moments.

And so it is with me.

We are selling our home of 33 years. That is the only thing that is certain. All else keeps us in a state of what we call, “to be revealed”, which has taken an ironic turn as we prepare our home for sale.

On our mantle, we removed a sign leaned against the wall that says, “When you trip in life, make it part of your dance.” Oh, that this could be so. Behind that sign, mold is revealed, and when we go to wash it, my finger sinks through the wall. We discovered the mossy climate has destroyed a brick chimney and compromised our dry wall. The deck with lattice that was so attractive in its youth is now moss covered and encrusted with lichen. Who knows what else we will find lurking in the bones of this old home?

Or in our own old bones?

We are sifting through a many roomed house and are now down to what might fill a one bedroom apartment. Along the way, things we thought we could not do without have been “re-homed” through communities created on social media to support each other in sharing belongings.

In the process of this sifting we have come to see that having places where we can “put things” over these long years just led to an explosion of things, none of which are necessary in what will become our new life. We have found that in facing the possibility of a transient life, every keepsake undergoes rigorous examination.

Boxes once labeled “must stay with us” have been whittled down and whittled again, and today they may be emptied entirely. We are determined to not rent a storage locker for “stuff” we will not be able to use in our new smaller space. Or take with us when we go to the final destination that awaits us all.

This has led to some beautifully hard conversations about what truly matters in life.

I am reminded that when my mom moved in with us at 95, she came with five plastic bins with all her earthly belongings. After a few months in our home, I asked her if she wanted to go through them and bring things upstairs.

“Why would I I?” she replied, “I have been fine without those things up until now.” This from a woman who survived Hitler and the rain of bombs on Frankfurt…who lived on dandelions and K-rations and immigrated to America with little but the clothes on her back and a spirit of adventure which she carried her entire life.

It is her spirit of adventure I need to channel now.

For of all the things that have been hard about getting ready to jettison home ownership, the hardest has been this: we do not know where we will be.

Yes, we know we are headed to Bellingham. Yes, we know a life awaits us there that will be new and filled with blessings as we get to know our Bellingham grandkids better. But where will we lay our heads at night?

My mom must have had those same questions and more as her ship crossed the Atlantic and the Statue of Liberty came into view, swelling her heart with an image she said she was never to forget… an image of promise and hope. She embraced the unknown every step of the way and never lost her ability to step through the fear and questions, her soul’s voice of adventure overcoming her doubts.

Our journey is so much easier than hers. But having not practiced sailing on unknown seas in these 35 years of domestic settling, my feet have become land bound. I see the ship on the horizon. I know it carries my name. But the destination painted on the bow is unclear at this angle.

And so I sit in my “unsettled-ness” and carry a vague sense of dis-ease in my bones.

And then I remember the woman who birthed me, with whom I adventured every summer for decades… the woman whose entire body vibrated at the word “adventure”. I remember the woman who stepped off a boat and wandered the streets of New York with only a vague notion of where she might lay her head that first night.

She embodied being “a feather on the breath of God” and I can only pray that, like her love of nature and learning, this too, has been passed down from her DNA to mine.

Somewhere in Whatcom County we will lay our heads. We will stare at empty walls and step into a transitory life until the next step and the next step get revealed. It is disorienting. But in this uncertain time, I am leaning into the certainty of a God who provides, and I have learned to claim these words:,

“I lift up my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth.”

He will not let my foot slip. And He who watches over me will not slumber.

He is the captain at the helm. The sails, like feathers, fill with His breath. And I can only wait for the turning of the bow and the revelation of the destination.

It is enough.

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