When a New Beginning Shows Up

“In out-of-the-way places of the heart,

Where your thoughts never think to wander,

This beginning has been quietly forming,

Waiting until you were ready to emerge.”

-John O’Donohue, “For a New Beginning,” To Bless the Space Between Us


How does it take some of us so long to step out of our comfort zone? To take a chance, to do something we’ve never done? Sometimes, we just don’t notice that our life is in a rut.


So it is that I find myself sitting at an antique desk, crystal lamps on each side, modern computer atop the aged beige doily, pondering the surprise that I am here at all. Spending four days at an elegant Victorian mansion bed and breakfast, intending to do a lot of writing has not been a dream awaiting its time. Yet, here I am. Out of my rut.


My husband and I traveled around a lot during our 22 years together. It was nearly always at his instigation. He was the extrovert who came most alive when he was with people. I never traveled alone. These four days are the first time I have traveled all alone since he died five and a half years ago. I’m doing this for my writing, I say, but perhaps there is more to this than meets the eye. I don’t know until I try.


I have been writing this blog now for about six months. My style has changed along the way, and I think that it will continue to do so for a while, if I am to believe those who know more about these things. I began to realize that it might be a good idea to take myself to an unfamiliar place to do some writing. Jog the brain cells a bit. Turn my eyes to unfamiliar landscapes and immerse myself in a place filled with a different kind of beauty – the immense abundance of “things” that are the Victorian ethos.


I have come to  a city where the Mississippi runs, and I am within walking distance of its greatness now. There are museums and kitschy stores and coffee shops; beautiful hills covered in forest and bluffs whose heights you can stand on to see over to the next state. So much to do! So many possibilities!


As I sit on the bank of the town’s lake, the flowers of spring are ready to photograph, as is a Mallard duck that would rather splash in a puddle that is just 20 feet from the large lake nearby. Things I would have barely noticed before.


There are small towns and small cities on the river that draw the curious and the lover of landscape beauty. An iconic ice cream shop. A Swedish town with unique shops to see. I want to go there, too.


This traveling alone is a new beginning for this intrepid, introverted homebody. This geographically challenged neophyte. This comfortable widow who navigates easily to any familiar rut she finds. And not too easily to those that I find unfamiliar.


I stand before a smorgasbord of opportunity (think Norwegian Lutheran potluck dinner) and I cannot decide where to focus my energies. I want to do it all! Yet I am tempted to stay put. My life has been pretty set for a long time and choices have been fairly easy to make. They were familiar. Time-tested. I knew pretty much what to expect. Few surprises. So comfortable.


Yet I came here to write.


I have stepped out into a bigger world, with no one to share it with, and my senses and my brain are dancing a bit, but I have little idea of what the steps are supposed to be. How do I dance this one? All of the choices are up to me. No one else is in charge.


“Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning

That is at one with your life’s desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure;

Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk,

Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,

For your soul senses the world that awaits you.”

-John O’Donohue, “For a New Beginning,”  To Bless the Space Between Us


Okay, perhaps I am overthinking this one! Unfurling – yes, that is the thing. Unfurling as grace sounds hopeful. Possible. Writing, yes. But maybe there is more for these getaway days.


You would think I would be used to new beginnings by now. But each one is different. Traveling alone is new and I’m a bit rusty. Still, I shall try to go with the flow and not worry about whether I’m doing it “right.” Leave the rut and try the next path.


When a new beginning approaches, we can either avoid it or embrace it. It may be difficult. We may need to ramp up our courage to unfurl ourselves into it. But there is always the possibility that it will call us from what we know into something we never anticipated. Some new enjoyment or meaningful insight, something refreshing or delightfully surprising. Maybe walking into the “I never realized…”


So I’ll mind the dance…pick up the steps and lean into the rhythm of each one. Learning to unfurl some more of my Self. It’s just Tuesday. There is time until Friday. And I have written this…


If I don’t learn the dance very well;  if I somehow don’t get altogether “unfurled,” stepping out of the rut is a start. And I’m okay with that.