Endings… and New Beginnings

by Jen Slayden on · 66 comments

It is a funny thing, to talk about new begin­nings as the world around me shows otherwise.

For in a mat­ter of one week, I have watched the decid­u­ous trees in my state start to slowly relin­quish them­selves back to Mother Earth. Some cling, many hover, and some finally let go, resigned to the fact that this is what is meant to be. Their end­ing, in vivid color and dance makes me won­der if they look for­ward to this joy­ous occa­sion, as if they waited all sum­mer long to show their deep and intense glory.

I have sent my old­est off to high school, out­side the safety of our com­mu­nity K-8 school, where now a moun­tain canyon divides him from his other sib­lings. I had a moment of sad­ness rec­og­niz­ing that this was the lit­tle boy nine years ago who tightly grasped my pinky fin­ger with his small, sweaty hand, a ten­ta­tive expres­sion on his face as I led him into his Kinder­garten class. Nine years later as I drop him off at a new school, a quick wave, a “see you mom.” His hands are big­ger than mine, and he is not want­ing me to hold on to them. An end of an era.

Most intense has been to watch a small fire that started, just two miles from my house, with only the river divid­ing the safety of our house and the fiery of fire. In two days the fire exploded into a full blown wild­fire of top national pri­or­ity. The flames spread up the moun­tains where my fam­ily hikes and bikes, dev­as­tat­ing the vast area of pine trees that sing sweet songs in the wind when we pass by. An end of the for­est that I know and love.

But yet, is it REALLY the end? When I start to look closer I rec­og­nize the irony. Because for the mas­ter who painted on the water­color can­vas of life, there is no delin­eation in the pic­ture of where there is a begin­ning and an end. They sim­ply merge together, cre­at­ing a stroke of genius, one sup­port­ing the other, blended and beautiful.

Those leaves that fall, they begin a new phase when they decay and cre­ate nur­tur­ing fer­til­izer for the earth. Their job is not done, just trans­formed. They now are essen­tial to the growth of the par­ents that held them tight to their limbs.  They have found their new beginning.

My son, that high schooler! It is I that clings, not he. He is look­ing at this as an oppor­tu­nity, an excit­ing time of growth, cre­ativ­ity, and learn­ing. He has only just begun to explore the life that lies ahead. High school is the canyon with a steep slope of learn­ing and excit­ing new places to try and nav­i­gate. He has found his new begin­ning, and I have found a new begin­ning par­ent­ing a high school student.

That wild­fire? Still burn­ing, but again, part of the plan. Have you ever seen a for­est that has recov­ered from fire? New grass begins to grow, then shrubs and trees. Sun­light cre­ates diverse plant growth that feeds more wildlife and keeps the for­est health­ier. So in the end, the fires also have their place in the beginning.

As I con­tem­plate new begin­nings, I rec­og­nize one more irony. That with just a few let­ters rearranged, the word begin turns into being. Chil­dren have a knack for being, embrac­ing pre­cious moments with aban­don. I learn from my chil­dren, con­tent with sparkling blue sky, sit­ting high on a hitch­ing post in the fresh moun­tain air, and play­ing with cousins with­out a care in the world.

When I am my full essence, true to myself, encom­pass­ing all of life and it’s ups and downs, let­ting go of rela­tion­ships that are not authen­tic in my life, and embrac­ing my heart’s work, and BEING who I really am,  I can truly BEGIN.


by Jen Slay­den

Jen Slay­den finds her har­mony in West­ern Mon­tana with her hus­band Mark, their three kids, and an out­door lov­ing black lab named Cody. Stop by and check out her life in music, words, and edu­ca­tion at Find Your Har­mony.
Jen Slayden
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