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