Change and Un-Change

Over thanksgiving break I found myself musing about how things change. The more that I thought about it, the more I realized that change happens all the time and it is because of time that things change. Yet, when we think of the people that change, we think about how things really haven’t changed at all. They are still the same kid they were on the playground. They’ve just grown taller, been given money, had children, their skin has gotten more worn and, eventually, more wrinkly. Even though they’ve changed, they still worry about losing friendships, they want to have fun and laugh, or want to have their belly full.

People still have the same fears and doubts about certain events even if they’ve had 10 children or are the CEO of a company. Certainly circumstances have changed, but whether you’re the child looking ahead toward apparent success or the parent looking back at the bright-eyed kid, all are on the same footing wondering how to deal with the other and that of which they are in charge. The notion that more is better is crippling. It maims generations of people by distracting them from what it is that is to change, not account balances, cars, educational degrees, or addresses but rather virtues of patience toward others, justice for the oppressed, and endurance through trying times. The latter give life to the former, making it easier to let go of the former for the latter.

I visited those whom I love most this past week in North and South Carolina over Thanksgiving break. I visited familiar places and saw familiar faces. All of which seemed to have changed, or was it just me that changed? The buildings haven’t changed, the service at certain restaurants hadn’t changed, and the smell of the air was the same. The same jokes were made around the dinner table, the same interactions were had, and you could find the plates in the same place. Yet I still spoke the same way, thought the same way as I had before, and laughed at the same things. So why was there an air of change?

We’ve all grown a year older, a year wiser, and a year more experienced than the last while still maintaining similar inadequacies and insecurities that our younger selves had. So we’ve all definitely changed, but…not really.

So what? Why muse over seemingly pedantic and trivial things? I think that in the tension of change and un-change I’ve learned how to be present. At least, I’m becoming increasingly more present with every interaction. I noticed how my buddy held his hands and arms above his head while musing over ironic circumstances. I noticed how dad made another simple improvement to an evolving way of deep frying turkeys. I noticed how my friend carefully tamped the espresso grounds to make a perfect cup of coffee for a stranger. I noticed something in my mom’s eye when she told me something I needed to hear. And I notice how my friends covered their spare bed with clean sheets and tons of blankets because their spare room got a little bit colder at night than the rest of the house.

I saw virtuous qualities that I aspire to in those whom I love. Things that I want changed in me. Sure we all might have a little more or less stuff and we all move a little slower or faster than last year, but we’re the same changing creatures who want to belong to each other and ultimately to the unchanging creator of all things.

So in a season of change, I want to spend time changing in the midst of the presence of the lowly and the lovely people that I find myself with at any given moment. Not yesterday, not tomorrow, but today.

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