This is day five of a new series: 31 Letters from London. In October, I’m doing something a little different and writing to you about the realities of life as an expat; finding the nearness of God through random experiences with new culture. It’s important to begin here and find the collection of letters here. (This letter was written a month ago.) We’re breaking for Sabbath every Sunday.
Yesterday, I woke up to a grey bowl of cloud cover. Squinting, I captured rain spitting from the sky. The shiny pavement out my kitchen window warned me rain began falling more than a few minutes ago.
Leaves cascading from vines covering the wall behind my house are bleeding from verdant to crimson. Nature always alerts me to changes coming.
My daughter, Murielle, is asleep in the bedroom on the other side of the wall where I sit and type and listen to God most mornings. Right now, I’m listening to the Eastern Europeans three floors down banter back and forth while they pound hammers and drill into the adjoining concrete wall of our neighbor’s house.
We live in a terrace house or condo for those in the US. Adjoining walls means that their remodel is also ours to experience. Pounding, sawing and jack hammering are an intrusion to the normal stillness we usually awaken to in our neighborhood.
We can live through just about anything if we know the uncomfortable parts are temporary.
The leaves remind us daily that the work must be finished swiftly before the cold, dark and dreary months Dickens writes about became a reality in London. Open window days are fleeting and so is time with my daughter.
Murielle came here from South Carolina almost a month ago. We have one more day of being present with her until she flies back to the US.
I stare at those leaves, looking for wisdom as I navigate a new season of surrender in parenting.
She and I are making the slow transition from parent to friend. During her middle school years I didn’t think this was ever a possible reality. Admittedly my navigation skills in our relationship are sometimes lacking and awkward.
For two hours, we walk the aisles of Boots, a local store like Ulta in the US. Walls and shelves filled with lipsticks, eye pencils and magic sponges for applying makeup. She watched YouTube, took notes and is applying what she learns; a student of cosmetics, holding her Moleskine and purse with hyper vigilance to details.
“Do you want me to wash your makeup brushes,” she asks.
Of course, I said yes. I remember the days when I attempted a tutorial on how to apply mascara in her bathroom mirror. She still doesn’t wear it.
Hours spent wandering around a store full to the brim with femininity is an awe-inspiring expedition in this season of our relationship.
We come home with a bag of beauty tricks; a new sponge shaped like a mushroom for me because apparently only using your finger to apply foundation is old school.
And this being with my daughter, not for what I can teach her but for what she can teach me, it is a humbling transition, needed and freeing.
I’m learning that when I take a step back and look at life, not for how I can influence or change it, but for what I can learn from it, the ways in which God speaks through new culture and diversity become vistas admired for the wonder instead of formulas to be conquered.
Like the leaves shifting color on the wall of my garden, my daughter is showing me change is beautiful. And embracing change is a ruthless surrender making a clear pathway toward the future.
Are you experiencing a change of seasons in your community? In your relationships? Write me back and tell me how it looks for you (in the comments).
All my best,