(Warning: Game of Thrones Spoiler! Because I’m a dork. Also, because I care.)
I used to feel the seasons more.
I plucked this line into my phone last weekend as I watched my kids pop their heads in and out of the pumpkin display at the apple orchard we visit every year. Tallulah rejoices over every apple, gourd, candle, leaf, pumpkin, and paper turkey she lays her eyes on.
As she and her brother and sister were devouring their apple cider donuts and bouncing around, soaking in the fullness of the season, it hit me that I used to feel it the same way, but somewhere along the way the mystery faded.
It seems like the majority of America, or at least my Facebook feed, is currently watching “This Is Us”1 and eagerly anticipating “Stranger Things”2. I love both and I was trying to figure out what it was that I loved so much. My husband mentioned that Stranger Things was reminiscent of the 1980’s, when our generation was popping in and out of pumpkin displays. There’s a nostalgia that pulls us into the story as if we’re feeling our childhoods again.
It’s the same with “This Is Us”. It is meaningful to my generation, because it truly IS us. Shows like this, and watching your children intoxicate themselves in all of the fall festivities, helps you remember the magic yourself. It feels like crisp, wet air; smells like a stale leaf fire; and looks like brown and orange and whitewash jeans.
It’s restorative to remember the wonder. Especially if you’ve fallen away from yourself somehow. Chronic disease, pain, suffering: it forces us to break a little. The wonder slips out just like the water out of a broken vase.
Eventually, we get to a place, after the grief, during, maybe even before, where we want to glue the vase back together. We ache to heal.
I looked up the etymology (where the word came from) of the word heal.3 In Old English, it means “to make whole”, and healing: “restoration of wholeness”. And that’s it: we long to become whole again; who we were when talk of turkey, or JCPenney Christmas catalogs made us giddy, because it seems like over night we became a pile of broken glass, indifferent to any sort of awe.
I know just about one percent of what there is to know about the healing process, but in the very meaning of the word is the need to make whole. So how do we get to this restoration? How do we go from fractured to complete?
Let’s start by looking up another word. Bear with me. I’ll stop nerding out eventually. Restore means to give back, to renew, repair, rebuild.4 Store comes from the word staurare, as in instaurare, which means to “set up, establish”, and the “sta” root means to “stand, make or be firm”.
I found that standing took more than my own will power. I wanted to be made whole from the moment the pain set in, but I didn’t notice the pieces being placed back together until I restored what had died in my soul, and that meant letting something bigger than myself into the darkness with me.
We all love the moment in the movie when the bad guy is obliterated. And I’m not sure there is a person alive who didn’t scream and applaud when Jon Snow came back to life (ok, maybe that was just me), or stand to their feet when Gandalf shows up on the horizon with his white horse, sob when Holly found Cat, or gasp when Wesley went rolling down the hill screaming, “As you wish”. Why? Because there is an innate desire in us all for the restoration of good, for the return, the come back, the reclaiming of what was before.
Why? I believe it is because we are made with a spirit that longs for wholeness, for restoration. We were never meant to live in pain or sickness. We were created for something much better. Our souls long for something bigger.
When we were kids we didn’t have to try to wonder at the beautiful, good things around us. We just did. We felt it. We created, we anticipated, and we still believed that the good guy would always win.
Life disenchants us from this kind of faith-filled living. We begin to accept and expect the ugly and stop looking for the beautiful. We stop smelling the sweetness of the falling leaves and instead dread the hours of yard work they’ll be causing.
Why does it matter? So what if we don’t “feel the seasons like we used to”? Because the fire goes out. Because we let the pain win. We give up. Jon dies. Gandalf never shows. Cat gets lost in the alleyways of New York. Princess Buttercup marries Humperdinck. We have to “stand up” to restore. One more word explored and then we’ll be done with etymology. Pinky swear.
We have to come back to what we were created to do and who we were created to be. If you want to be whole again, you have to remember what your purpose was, or at least search for it. For me, and many other creatives, it is to do just that: create. “Creating”, however, extends well beyond what we initially consider as creative.
Create comes from the latin word “creare” which means to “make, bring forth, produce”, and from crescere, which means to “arise, grow”. 5
To stand again, to restore, we need to produce and bring forth.
I talk frequently about how writing helped in the healing process, but, friends, it has never been the writing. It’s what the writing allows me to do, and that is to encourage all of you with my story, and to dig at parts of my soul that simply don’t come out when I’m talking.
The filter I have created out of insecurity is too thick to allow my spoken words to get at anything close to what my written words can say. Writing helps me to understand what it is I am feeling when the wind blows past my face and I couldn’t tell you why my spirit started to stir until I took it to paper (although, more commonly, screen).
Restoration also meant being present. It meant actually tuning in when my kids and my husband were with me. It meant wonder at the small, beautiful things that were a part of my life that I had allowed the pain to turn grey. When I let life come back to color, I started to stand again, with the help of the Holy Spirit, and restoration began. Friends, I felt my spirit arise when I knew there was more for me than suffering. I fell into the fullness of my creativity when I tapped into the creaTOR.
Your soul is meant for healing.
You were never created to remain a pile of glass. Something will happen to each of us that will make us feel that we have no reason or ability to live our purpose, but that is the very thing we have to do in order to return to wholeness. And here’s the amazing part: sometimes the restoration builds us into something more beautiful than what we were before we broke.
You are loved and you were meant for more than your disease, your pain, or your hardship. You may not be able to rebuild your muscles or your bones, your relationships or your bank account, but, my friend, your soul can be restored. It. all. starts. there.
Arise into the knowledge that there is hope for you.
And then go outside, carve a pumpkin, drink some cider, eat that healing donut, and take a long, deep, restorative breath of crisp, fall air. When you get too cold for all of the festivities, run inside, grab your snuggie and catch up on Stranger Things! The second season launches October 27th, 2017 on Netflix.
Hey friends! If this resonated, I want to hear about it! What are your favorite parts of fall and the holiday season? What has your current struggle taken from you? Comment below!
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1 This Is Us [Television series]. (2016). Netflix.
2 Stranger Things [Television series]. (2016, 2017). Netflix.
3 Heal. (n.d.). Retrieved October 23, 2017, from http://www.etymonline.com/
4 Restore. (n.d.). Retrieved October 23, 2017, from http://www.etymonline.com/
5 Create. (n.d.). Retrieved October 23, 2017, from http://www.etymonline.com/