I left Land O’Lakes in the dark this morning, packing the last few items quietly while Land O’Lakes Public Radio brought the BBC into my tiny room. Having opted for the least luxurious accommodations on campus, I walked around a cot for three days after my son left for the dorm. The friendly woman who checked us in Wednesday night checked me out before dawn. Like so many other faces at the school, hers has reassured in a variety of locations, including during a breakfast we ate together in the cafeteria on Friday.
Loaded down by middle-sized duffel, laptop, over sized purse and shopping bag full of Land O’Lakes swag, I made my way to the parking lot, where I put my duffel inside its larger rolling mate and packed my purchases around it. Still in the dark, the dark of the middle of the night, I drove from the woods to the little city, finding my way back to the adorable airport I have never seen by daylight.
It’s strange to come to a place in the dark and leave it again the same way.
In between, the sun shone, the rain fell, and the sun shone again. We arrived in languid summer and moved possessions against our impulse to fade away in the humidity. But this morning fall offered its cool hand in blessing, signifying the school year, the New Year, has really begun.
There is some light as we lift off, and I gaze down at a landscape of lakes, lakes and more lakes, of all shapes and sizes, with the not-so-far-away coast of Lake Michigan curving sea-like from one edge of my window view to the other. I wonder which lakes belong to the school and vow to study a map when I return home.
In years gone by, eager to control my universe in order to keep it safe, I would have studied maps in advance, allowing no room for doubt about the lakes or the roads. When did I become so fluid? Yet, like the lakes, I flow in a contained fashion. I know when to get to the airport, what airline counter to approach, how to find my way home.
Perhaps I came to believe in grace, saving and sustaining, an expression of love that moves with us and holds us, wherever we journey.