What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.
T.S. Eliot, "Little Gidding"
Tonight at Land O’Lakes’ Opening Convocation, the Director of the Dance Department spoke eloquently of the opportunities available to the students here, and really to all people, if we will be open to what comes to us: teachers, suggestions, challenges alike. Watching my son make friends and settle in over the past three days provided me with just such choices. Always the arm baby who leaned away rather than snuggling in, he is ready to be on the move personally, intellectually and musically. Would I be open to the new learning, or cry instead? Or might I cry and learn, too?
Our years of being together full time are at an end, and I am grieved when I think of home without him. But in the ending, indeed, there is a beginning. And it is no less true because I will hear about it via e-mail or phone. Bless him, he suffered more embraces than he generally finds comfortable, but I didn’t feel satisfied until I held his hands and prayed. I don’t think I’ve ever done that with one of my children in the midst of a farewell. I felt inarticulate and apt to weep, and I found in prayer the blessing I wanted to give him. This may seem obvious to some of you, and when I am wearing my hat of pastor, it certainly seems so to me. But as Snowman’s mom, I felt surprised at what came over me, standing in the dark outside the hotel at Land O’Lakes, the sound of singing rising up from the beach just below us.
Further on in "Little Gidding," Eliot writes:
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Up to this point in my life, I’ve looked back at my own life and its places and people. I have been the heroine in my drama. It’s disconcerting to be part of what will be left and regarded from a distance, a supporting player in someone else’s story. I struggle with it, honestly I do. The role of Mother, not yet to be retired but materially altered, perplexes me. My own new beginning must await me, a start born in this ending, a new chapter of a story unfolding, another trip to arrive where I started and know it, perhaps really know it this time.